For more information, contact Kathy Masaoka 323.665.5616

“The Japanese American community was the first to reach out to us after 9/11,” said Affad Shaik, Civil Rights Chair of the Greater Los Angeles office of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA), “that is why we are educating our community about what happened to Japanese American during WWII and are taking Muslims from Southern California to this years Manzanar Pilgrimage.”  To educate the Muslim community about the WWII incarceration of Japanese Americans, CAIR-LA organized five community forums at different Islamic Centers in Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego in conjunction with Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress (NCRR).  Each educational presentation featured Tadashi Nakamura’s award-winning film, “Pilgrimage” and a panel of speakers from the Japanese American community who talked about the experiences and effects of the WWII incarceration.

Hussam Ayloush, Executive Director of CAIR-LA attended many of the programs and said that as the United States continues to face challenges to civil liberties, the Japanese American experience during WWII provides important lessons for all people.  After screening “Pilgrimage,” June Hibino and Mark Masaoka of NCRR spoke at the Orange County Islamic Foundation/Mission on March 21st ; Kathy Masaoka of NCRR and Ken Inouye of the JACL spoke at the Islamic Institute of Orange County/Anaheim on March 29th;  former Manzanar inmate Wilbur Sato and  Karen Ishizuka and Bob Nakamura of NCRR spoke at the Islamic Center of Hawthorne with other NCRR members Patty and Steve Nagano attending; Kay Ochi of NCRR and Ben Segawa of the Japanese American Historical Society of San Diego (JAHSSD) spoke at the Islamic Society of San Diego on April 12th with other JAHSSD members Carol Estes, Grace Segawa and Linda Canada attending; and Mike Yanagita of NCRR and Jim Matsuoka, who was featured in the featured film “Pilgrimage,” spoke at the Islamic Society of Corona/Norco on April 13th. Imam Yassir Fazaga, religious director of the Orange County Islamic Foundation said, “This is probably one of the most important and provocative programs we have had at this mosque.  In order for us to celebrate our diversity, we must appreciate each other’s contributions and acknowledge each other’s struggles.”

CAIR-LA has arranged for busses and overnight accommodations for 80 Muslims from thoughout Southern California to attend the 39th Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage this Saturday, April 26th.  They will also participate in the interfaith ceremony and speak at the pilgrimage.