About Me

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Hussam has been a lifelong human rights activist who is passionate about promoting democratic societies, in the US and worldwide, in which all people, including immigrants, workers, minorities, and the poor enjoy freedom, justice, economic justice, respect, and equality. Mr. Ayloush frequently lectures on Islam, media relations, civil rights, hate crimes and international affairs. He has consistently appeared in local, national, and international media. Full biography at: http://hussamayloush.blogspot.com/2006/08/biography-of-hussam-ayloush.html

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Pilgrimage to MANZANAR

I spent my last weekend at Manzanar as part of the annual Pilgrimage to Manzanar program. It was a life-changing experience that helped renew my commitment to the work I do. Evreyone of us has to put their best efforts in promoting dialogue and understanding among all people. So often, we take our civil rights and freedoms for granted. The Japanese Americans took it for granted too and learned the hard way that it is not a guaranteee, not even in America.

Our country acts at its best when the good people do not remain silent when the fear and hate mongers spread their bigotry and paranoia.

Here is a good summary from our trip (as published by the InFocus Newspaper). Read the whole article on their website. It is really powerful. I am also attaching a few photos from the trip.


Pilgrimage to MANZANAR
By Munira Syeda, Contributing Writer

...On Saturday, April 28 around 1,000 Americans and members of the California Muslim community made a pilgrimage to Manzanar National Historic Site, in what was called the 38th Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage, to learn about the experiences of Japanese American detainees. Among the visitors was the Southern California Muslim family of Barbara Serhal, whose Japanese American parents were incarcerated at Manzanar...

In 1942, internees arrived at the camp with very little luggage. Most of their belongings, businesses and homes were destroyed, taken away or sold at a fraction of the original price. They came to a desolate desert area, where they learned to live in cramped corners, form lines, and exhibit new attitudes at gun-point...

The program also included an interfaith ceremony at the camp cemetery, featuring Shinto, Buddhist, Christian and Muslim prayers. CAIR-LA Area Executive Director Hussam Ayloush and Dr. E.M. Abdul Mumin, head of Riverside’s Du Bois Institute, led the Muslim prayer.

More than 135 internees died at the camp from 1942-45. Many were sent back home for burials but as many as 80 were buried at the camp cemetery. When the camp finally closed, family members of deceased internees took their remains to be buried somewhere else. However, according to historic accounts, at least six people, including three babies, were still buried at the cemetery in 1946...

After the pilgrimage, Ayloush said, "Americans in general, and American Muslims in particular, must visit Manzanar and other internment camps to witness first-hand the kind of dehumanization and injustices that can occur when a country and its people are driven by fear and paranoia during war. Sadly, we find ourselves, yet again, wrestling with the very ideals our nation was founded upon."

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