The Muslim Youth Leadership Symposium of Oklahoma held its networking dinner program at the Meinders School of Business at Oklahoma City University on August 7.

The event was sponsored by the Oklahoma Chapter of the American Council on American Islamic Relations that is known by the acronym “CAIR”. to encourage activism among young Muslims in Oklahoma toward fostering a positive public image of Muslims in America.

Razi Hashmi, the executive director of the OKlahoma CAIR chapter, welcomed the young people from throughout the state that are attending the two day-event and also welcomed the adults present.

He recognized some of the elected officials who were in attendance. Among them were Dawud Walid, the executive director of the Michigan CAIR chapter and an Imam at a Detroit Mosque, who addressed the gathering and reminded them that many leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King and Rosa Park, began their acitivism while they were still in their twenties.

He also spoke about Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, who began that company while he was under thirty. Walid said that all issues in American life would influence them and their famiies, and urged them to become involved in the political process as a result. An authentic Muslim culture is currently being created in the US, the Imam asserted, and the young people who were participating in the youth leadership symposium are part of it. He related that he had never been in the state of Oklahoma before and that he was impressed by the friendliness

Of the people, he had met here, he said he thought that many of them should already be leaders. Judge Robert Henry, who was recently installed as the 17th president of Oklahoma City University, also addressed the gathering, and told them that OCU was founded by the Methodists of Oklahoma to provide education to people of all faiths”, and that that he shared that commitment.

Henry engaged in a dialogue with many of the attendees in which he asked them what their perception of what politics is like in American today, and urged them to get involved to improve the political process in both the state and nation. He also urged them not to be cynical about politics.

The University president pointed out that he had been elected to the Oklahoma State House of Representatives while he was 23 and still a student at the University of Oklahoma’s School of Law. He also said that as American citizens the Muslim youth that attended had rights that were denied to many other young people in the world today, and that with those rights came responsibilities to take an interest in American society. That obligation, Henry said, could be satisfied in a variety of ways, including running for office, supporting political candidates, and participating in activites that would assist the less fortunate or protect the natural environment.