The Oklahoma Chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations – CAIR – recently hosted its annual dinner at the Reed Center here in Midwest City.

Nadia Judith Enchassi, a contributor to Red Dirt Report, served as masters of ceremony for the event, and she introduced Adam Soltani, the executive director of Oklahoma CAIR.

Soltani spoke with feeling about the issues that have confronted the state’s Muslims in the past year, that included a state representative from the Tulsa area who compared Islam to a “cancer,” and protesters who appeared at the state capital building when CAIR sponsored an event there.

Additionally, Soltani said that he has a young son, and that it his fervent hope that his son will not have to face that type of hostility as he grows up.

“Go home” is a hostile phrase that has been heard by some of the state’s Muslims, according to Soltani, and he said that “they are already home” and plan to remain here. He also told of the people of other faiths who also appeared at the Oklahoma State Capitol on that date to show their support for the state’s Muslims and said that he believes that they are the true face of Oklahoma.

Nihad Awad, who is the founder of the national CAIR organization, also addressed the gathering, and reported how that after years of seeing Muslims and their faith maligned in the media and culture he decided that it was time to found an organization that could respond to those mischaracterizations.

He praised the Oklahoma CAIR chapter for the work it was doing and those of other religions who supported their efforts in the Sooner State. As you may recall, Awad came to Oklahoma 20 years ago, following the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building and offered aid and financial assistance to victims of the bombing on behalf of the American Muslim community, while also meeting personally with then-Gov. Frank Keating.

A moment of levity was had when Nadia Judith Enchassi introduced her father, Dr. Imam Imad Enchassi, who raised money for CAIR from the attendees. The younger Enchassi reported that her father often references her at gatherings where both of them are present, and she reciprocated by telling of how her father, who is a serious man known for his great piety and learning, has a fondness for several pop songs, including “ Call Me Maybe” and often sings them around their home.

Significantly, the senior Enchassi did not deny that allegation. And the love and affection that the both Enchassis displayed towards one another was a reminder of how similar the state’s Muslims are to other Oklahomans of differing religious affiliations in regard to family values.

The amount of money that Enchassi managed to raise in a short period of time was indicative of the affluence of the Oklahoma Islamic community.

The keynote address was delivered by Suhaib Webb, a graduate of John Marshall High School in Oklahoma City who converted to Islam in his youth and is now an Imam at a mosque in the Boston area.

Webb told of how he was introduced to Islam as a high school basketball player through hip hop music sung by Muslim performers . He spoke of the number of Muslims who are performers in the music industry and how they can serve as role models for other young people who are follows of Islam.

The imam also spoke of how prejudice and distrust of Muslims has affected his own family, and urged the attendees to fight against Islamophobia.

Webb also told of how he visited the Auschwitz concentration camp with a friend of his who is a Jewish Rabbi, and that one elderly survivor who he met advised him not to underestimate those who hate.

The Holocaust survivor told him that he could remember when the Nazis were originally dismissed in Germany as a fringe group of crackpots who did not pose a serious threat to anyone.