L.A. City Council Adopts Muslim American Heritage Month

Every year, Los Angeles celebrates a number of heritage months: Latino, American Indian, African American, Asian and Pacific Islander American, and LGBT. Now you can add one more to that list this year.

The Los Angeles City Council adopted a resolution on Wednesday recognizing the contributions and activism of the Muslim American community and declared July 2014 as Muslim American Heritage Month.

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Council member Curren D. Price, who introduced the resolution, represents one of the largest and longest-standing Muslim community centers in South LA -- the Bilal Islamic Center.

"Residents from my community approached me to commemorate the Muslim community and culture, and I felt it was only appropriate to celebrate this culture as we do dozens of others in our city," said Price. "Our city's diversity, and our acceptance and tolerance of our different beliefs, is part of what makes our city great."

Earlier this year, Project Islamic Hope, an L.A.-based civil rights activist group, collaborated with council staff to work on an initial draft that would later be introduced to the council.

"It's a very important resolution. It's historic," Najee Ali, the project's founder, told KCET. "It will help bring Los Angeles Muslims closer to the mainstream and civic life and affairs of our city where we will have a chance every year to highlight the various cultural traditions of the Muslim community."

"We can share understanding for many of our fellow Angelenos who know very little of the Muslim community, except for what they see on TV and the media, which is mostly negative," he added.

California currently has the largest Muslim community in the U.S. -- with a majority residing in Southern California, according to USC's Center for Religion and Civic Culture. The Golden State is also home to the largest number of religious mosques in the U.S.

Los Angeles is the second city to officially have a Muslim Heritage Month, according to Ali. Washington, D.C. is one of the first cities to have adopted Muslim Heritage Month.

Muslim Americans will account for an estimated 1.7 percent of the population in the U.S. by 2030., according to the Pew Research Center. Currently, almost 3 million Muslims live in the United States today.

The resolution notes that the celebration "will promote and encourage awareness of the significant contributions made by the city's Muslim population in culture, social services, education, politics, business, technology, and the arts."

The Council on American-Islamic Relations says the resolution is a celebration of diversity.

"We hope that this resolution will serve to expand the bridge between the Muslims of Los Angeles and the larger community by providing an opportunity to learn of the numerous contributions that Muslim Angelenos have made to this great city in the past, as well the impact of their current efforts," said Yasmin Nouh, CAIR-LA's communications coordinator.

The city council's adoption of this resolution has also sparked an example for other institutions to potentially adopt similar resolutions, Nouh added. "In our current political sphere, it has unfortunately become acceptable to attack one's political opponent on the basis of their relations with the Muslim community or incite fear of Muslims to garner support. In passing the resolution, the L.A. City Council has implicitly made a statement rejecting such fear tactics, and set an example for all public officials and institutions to aspire to."

About the Author

Monica Luhar is an assistant web producer for KCET's "SoCal Connected." She has written for NPR affiliate station Southern California Public Radio, India-West, Pacific Citizen, New America Media, OC Weekly, among various other hyperlocal, national, and we
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