Who We Are
Defending Rights, Defeating Intolerance
To be a leading advocate for justice and mutual understanding.
CAIR-Oklahoma is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) grassroots civil rights and advocacy group. Established in 2006 by a group of local Muslims, CAIR-Oklahoma serves the entire state of Oklahoma through its Oklahoma City office. CAIR-Oklahoma is a chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group with chapters nationwide. The national headquarters is located on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C.
CAIR Oklahoma partners regularly with community and social justice organizations from around the state in working together towards the common goal of improving the quality of life for all Oklahomans. To that end, CAIR Oklahoma has been a proud member of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits since 2012 and CAIR Oklahoma board members and staff regularly participate in trainings and discussions led by the Center for Nonprofits.
Recognitions and Awards
- 2015: CAIR Oklahoma received the Angie Debo Civil Libertarian of the Year Award from the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma.
- 2018: CAIR Oklahoma was recognized as the CAIR Chapter of the Year by the CAIR National office.
- 2021: CAIR Oklahoma awarded the Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher Diversity Award by the Oklahoma Bar Association
In 2006, Lobna Hewedi moved to Oklahoma from Los Angeles, where she had worked for the Los Angeles Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. She enjoyed the experience, but even more so, she saw the benefit the organization brought to the Muslim community of Southern California. Upon moving to Oklahoma, she set out on a mission to gather a group of like-minded individuals and open a chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Oklahoma. A year later, the Oklahoma Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR Oklahoma) had an office and their first full-time executive director, Razi Hashmi.
From 2006 until 2014, the presence and notoriety of CAIR Oklahoma grew across the state and nationally with some groundbreaking civil rights cases. In 2007, CAIR Oklahoma assisted Samantha Elauf, a Tulsa Muslim teen, when she was discriminated against by Abercrombie & Fitch, who did not hire her because she wore a headscarf, or hijab, as a part of her Muslim faith. Ms. Elauf’s case eventually went to the United States Supreme Court that held, in an 8-1 decision, an employer may not refuse to hire an applicant to avoid accommodating a religious practice.
In 2010, CAIR Oklahoma grabbed the attention of the entire country when its second executive director, Muneer Awad, filed a lawsuit against the state of Oklahoma following the 70% approval of Oklahoma’s Anti-Shariah Amendment, State Question 755, by voters. With the lawsuit filing, Mr. Awad and his co-plaintiffs were granted a temporary injunction against the state question. The legal battle lasted three years, and eventually, Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange issued a permanent injunction against State Question 755, stating the state question violated the First Amendment of the Constitution’s Establishment Clause.
In the years since, CAIR Oklahoma has grown into a statewide social justice and educational organization serving Oklahoma Muslims through its Oklahoma City office. The organization now has full-time departments dedicated to civil rights, government affairs, community outreach and prison ministry. The organization’s mission has evolved over the years, but one thing remains constant: To improve the quality of life for Muslims in Oklahoma through education, advocacy and building coalitions to promote justice for people of all cultures and faiths.