I first started volunteering with CAIR-Washington State in 2006. I was motivated to help make a difference in the way Islam and Muslims were portrayed by mainstream media. Growing up as an American Muslim in North Seattle, I saw insensitive portrayals in Aladdin and Chuck Norris films. However as I entered my adult years representations of American Muslims devolved further into inflammatory, highly provocative daily portrayals in films, drama, sitcoms and mainstream headlines.

I saw the real-life impact of these representations, when over the past decade the same anti-Muslim slurs and conspiracy theories show up in hate crimes against people I care about. 
Starting the first week of November, I will transition from CAIR-Washington State to the CAIR National office in Washington, D.C. I will take a media relations position at CAIR National. In this position, I will work with national media editors to help them cover American Muslims accurately and appropriately. I will also work with CAIR chapters to maximize the impact of their media work.

Leaving my hometown and this chapter is one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made. In the decade that I’ve been with CAIR-Washington State, I’ve seen it become the place community members can find help when they face discrimination, and I’ve worked shoulder to shoulder with dedicated and courageous advocates and community members. I haven’t only found a career in CAIR-WA, I’ve found a home.
This is a crucial moment in the fight for civil rights.  Anti-Muslim prejudice has been promoted for more than a decade through defamatory portrayals in mainstream news and entertainment media. As a result, we have seen record high anti-Muslim hate crimes and discrimination. However in the past year, fellow American Muslims and allies have been more aware of this than ever before. By harnessing this energy, we have an opportunity to make nationwide, and possibly worldwide impact.
I am eagerly looking forward to shifting to a role in CAIR’s National office in Washington, D.C. It brings the possibility to take lessons-learned from research, case studies of success and pilot projects, and scale these at the national level. 

Done right, this can powerfully impact the public’s views of Islam and Muslims, improving the lives and futures of American Muslim families nationwide.

Today at CAIR-WA, we now have a highly effective civil rights department led by Civil Rights Director Jasmin Samy and a media relations department led by Media & Outreach Director Sarah Stuteville. We have a strong foundation to build upon and significant opportunities await our communities.
Our work is to build a grassroots movement. It has been people representing the diversity of American Muslims who volunteer their time, alongside allies in faith, government and academia that have allowed the work to flourish. As I enter this next chapter of my life, I carry with me as inspiration the courage and the hard work of our communities and my colleagues.
I’m excited to say that I’m leaving behind a growing chapter. A great parting gift from you would be to help fill three important positions – Executive Director, Public Affairs Director and Office Manager – with highly qualified and motivated people.  You can find more information about these positions at  www.cairseattle.org/careers  Please share them with your friends and colleagues today. 
Together, we can continue to build a better future for American Muslim families and a better society for all of us.


Arsalan Bukhari