Monday, August 21, 2017 marked an important event that shot a light of hope and a step toward acceptance and humanity, as people from all over came together for Muslim ACelebration in Sacramento. This year, the month of August was recognized as Muslim Appreciation and Awareness Month. The event, initiated by Assembly member Bill Quirk, proved to be successful in its efforts to celebrate and appreciate religion. The celebration called for Judge Halim Dhanidina to say a few words, as Judge Dhanidina is the first Muslim American Judge in California. In light of the current political and economic climate, it is important for us to be able to recognize the unique differences among one another, but not let those differences cloud our judgment. Assembly member Bill Quirk did just this—by presenting House Resolution 43 (aka HR 43) at the event, which appreciates the abundant and unique history and values that the Islamic religion has to offer. He especially focuses on the major positive impact that Muslim communities have afforded California, and speaks of his ambitions and aspirations for the future of these Muslim communities not only in the state, but all over the nation.
Senses Cultural stands behind Assemblyman Quirk and his aspirations for our community, as it is imperative to the success of our nation to be united as one, regardless of religion.
We here at Senses Cultural are honored to present our interview with Assemblyman Bill Quirk, acknowledging his recent efforts to celebrate and recognize the Muslim community with the HR-59 Bill that deemed August Muslim Appreciation and Awareness Month. Our contributing journalist Angelica Ekeke had the opportunity to sit down with Assemblyman Quirk, and he reminded us all about the significance of Muslim communities, their contributions, and the importance of having supportive leaders that encourage inclusion and diversity.
As the oldest of 7 children, Quirk always knew that he was destined to lead. He states, “being the oldest, when my mom needed an extra hand, I became that extra hand.” Quirkwas recently highlighted for his trailblazing commitment in recognizing Muslim Americans with the HR-59 Bill that deemed August as Muslim Appreciation and Awareness Month. The response from many Bay Area community groups and organizations was indeed a surprise to him. “I’ve never done any bill that got this much reception.” He hopes that others will not only embrace Muslim communities but the bill as well.
His intention with the bill was to acknowledge the accomplishments that Muslim Americans have made in our society. He states, “we have cultural heroes like Malcom X, Kareem Abdul- Jabbar, and several doctors and professors; we just have people from all walks of life that are quite successful and have made contributions to our society.” Quirk’s work within the Muslim community began far before the bill was created. “I’ve just been close to the Muslim community from starting in 2004 when I was working with local Muslims who were from Afghanistan”, said Quirk. Moina Shaiq, an active member of the Tri-Cities Interfaith Council and host of the “Meet a Muslim,” an initiative to promote understanding, was vital in getting the bill off the ground. “Moina brought all of this forward to me, and my answer was yes and, as she said, ‘we didn’t have to persuade Bill,’” he chuckled.
When asked about the recent anti-Muslim rhetoric during the year’s 2016 elections, Assembly man Quirk states, “We were doing this before Trump made his comments. There were 80 members of the Assembly and more than 60 authors took a vote during the voice vote; I heard a lot of yes’s, and I didn’t hear a lot of no’s.” Quirk goes on to state, “we recognize all groups, and it was just time to recognize Muslims; I found out that they were just like me; they want a good life for their families.”
Quirk’s recognition of the Muslim community was an act created for the community to feel embraced and welcomed by California’s leaders. “With this, I’m telling them yes there are people who say hateful things, but those are people who don’t know Muslims; those are people who haven’t spent time with Muslims.” Quirk will continue this initiative next year in an alternate month in addition to involving various schools during the academic school year.
More information about the bill can be found at: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov.
By Chris Scolorzano’s