Scrolling news:

Award to Muslim civil rights lawyer rescinded to appease pro-Israel activists

29th Jun 2018
Award to Muslim civil rights lawyer rescinded to appease pro-Israel activists

Zahra Billoo (Photo: Lorie Shaull/Creative Commons)

Harun Nasrallah

A California-based interfaith group has withdrawn an award recognising a Muslim civil rights activist, after alleged pressure from its donors who opposed the lawyer’s criticism of the Israeli Government.

In March, People Acting in Community Together (PACT) announced Zahra Billoo, who is also the Executive Director of the Northern California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), as one of its award recipients for its annual awards on October 8.

However, earlier this month, Billoo said PACT officials informed her opposition to her award was mounting and that its “institutional funding” was at stake and its Jewish members were threatening to leave.

She said PACT leaders instead proposed honouring another CAIR representative or the organisation as a whole, an option Billoo declined on the grounds that it was “unacceptable” for outsiders “to attempt to dictate who our leaders are and to make an award to the organisation contingent on the (executive director) not accepting it.”

Billoo said the options “were intended to appease the opposing Jewish leaders but would also minimise my defence of Palestinian human rights and role as an American Muslim leader. This was unacceptable.”

Billoo refused to decline the award and instead told PACT leaders that they must rescind the recognition, which they did.
PACT’s Executive Director, Akemi Flynn, said she was sorry for the pain it had caused Billoo but added PACT was being, “responsive to our membership and our community.”

“We did not anticipate the intense reaction that we received. We realised it could have and should have been handled differently.”

PACT said some of its Jewish members, were upset about certain statements Billoo has made but failed to specify.

Billoo has criticised the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for allegedly failing to defend the civil rights of certain groups.

In a string of Tweets in May, Billoo criticised Muslims who work with the ADL and accused the organisation of allegedly opposing civil and human rights activists during the South African apartheid; attacking Black Lives Matter activists after they supported a global Palestinian-led movement for freedom and justice and supporting Israeli bombings of Gaza, among several others.

Billoo said the ordeal wasn’t about the award, but about silencing a Muslim voice.

“This was about their choosing [sic] to let bullies set their direction, policing the way in which I express anger over my brothers and sisters being killed, evidence of why Muslims hold back on interfaith work, and just sincerely upsetting,” she said. “I explained to them that the test of ally-ship is what you do when it’s challenging, in fact when it’s scary.”

 

Leave a Comment

What is 11 + 3 ?
Please leave these two fields as-is:
IMPORTANT! To be able to proceed, you need to solve the following simple math (so we know that you are a human) :-)

Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence event is to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to society. Over 850 people from diverse background, Muslim and non-Muslim, attended the gala dinner.

Latest Tweets