With this in mind, the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) offered their first internship opportunities since inception of the organization in May 2007. Internships were offered for undergraduate and graduate students. Three young people from Oklahoma City were chosen to learn skills to make a difference and are mid-way through the program.

Adam Bates, CAIR-OK’s Civil Rights Intern, has a B.A. in political science and is currently pursuing a J.D. and an M.A. in Middle Eastern studies at the University of Michigan. “The fact that [civil rights] is unpopular is why it’s important to me. Anytime the government goes to war, those are the peoples whose civil rights are being violated,” said Bates, who is interested in civil liberties work for CAIR as well as protecting the rights of the individual and American Muslims. “Whether it’s legislators turning down gifts or telling people they can’t wear head scarves, there is no penalty for that,” adds Bates. “It’s a worthy cause for people to defend those rights for Muslims.”

Faheem Fazili serves as the Governmental Affairs Intern. “CAIR attracted me because I am interested and invested in it; because it affects my community directly.” Fazili, a student at Cornell University, is interested in political science and Islamic relations in America. He plans to attend law school after completing his degrees in history and government.

Last but not least is Amrish Sengupta, CAIR-OK’s Communications Intern. “This internship has helped me to develop my communication skills. Working to promote Islam, unity and dialog has also been very educational and I have been humbled by the experience,’ said Sengupta. “I am a Christian but I wanted to work with CAIR to understand and extend the hand of love to the Muslim community from my church.” Sengupta is a poet and studies political science at Oklahoma City University.

The interns were given projects both at the facility and in the community, including workshops, educational campaigns, and training sessions at mosques and community centers. They have worked with governmental officials, media professionals, academic, interfaith and civic leaders on substantive projects to lay the foundation for a fair and more inclusive America.

All three of CAIR-OK’s interns shared that they have had a positive experience and enjoyed the opportunity to learn and grow under this relaxed atmosphere and work environment. They were mentored by CAIR-OK leaders, Razi Hashmi and Tariq Ahmed.

“They all bring a lot of life in the office and they each bring something unique,” said Hashmi who has served as the CAIR-OK Executive Director since its inception. “We are thankful to have these guys,” said Ahmad, the group’s operations coordinator. “We do deal with a lot of unpopular issues and we have to go against the grain sometimes to get things done.”

There are five mosques in the greater Oklahoma City area, with thousands of Muslims living and working in our community. CAIR-OK is located in Midtown and works to facilitate the dialog and understanding of the Muslim faith to all people as well as promoting civil rights and justice for all.

“Fighting for the rights of people may not always be popular but it’s the right thing to do,” Hashmi said, adding, “Dr. Martin Luther King once said, ‘The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.’ These three have shown they measure up to that.”

CAIR-OK is located in Midtown in the Historic Gold Dome. For more information, call (405) 415-6851 or email info@ok.cair.com.