Promoting Greater Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian Community Inclusion

Escalating violence and unrest in the Middle East are negatively affecting how Muslims around the world and in the U.S. are perceived and treated. High profile cases of extremists and increased media coverage are fueling national security concerns and fear among receiving communities. The resulting increased racial profiling and community backlash challenge Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian immigrants and refugees’ long-term integration in the U.S., threaten our civil liberties, and prevent many deserving refugees from the Middle East from finding refuge in America. Speakers will address how community groups and advocates are responding. Moderator:

  • Shireen Zaman, Program Officer, Security and Rights Collaborative, Proteus Fund, Amherst -- Shireen Zaman directs the Security & Rights Collaborative at Proteus Fund, helping America’s Muslim, Arab and South Asian communities partner with the broader racial justice and civil rights movements. Prior to becoming a grant maker she was executive director of the research- and policy-focused Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, and before that led the Middle East Program at Vital Voices Global Partnership. Shireen is on the board of Slim Peace Groups, which brings together American Jewish and Muslim women to develop healthier eating habits, and foster empowerment and relationship building.


  • Zahra Billoo, Executive Director, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) San Francisco Bay Area -- Zahra Billoo is a civil rights attorney and the executive director of the San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-SFBA). Zahra is a leading voice on American Muslim civil rights. She is a 2013 recipient of the South Asian Bar Association of Northern California's Trailblazer Award and a 2014 recipient of the National Lawyers Guild SF Bay Area Chapter's Unsung Hero Award. Zahra earned her J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of Law, and was admitted to the California Bar in 2009.
  • Linda Sarsour, Executive Director, Arab American Association of New York -- Linda Sarsour is a civil rights activist, seasoned community organizer and social media maverick. She is the National Advocacy Director at the National Network for Arab American Communities, Executive Director of the Arab American Association of New York, and board member of the New York Immigration Coalition. Linda has been at the forefront of the campaign to end the NYPD's unwarranted surveillance of the American Muslim community, discriminatory law enforcement practices like stop and frisk and broken windows policing impacting communities of color in New York City. Linda is well known for her intentional work to build coalitions across communities and issues. She is a Palestinian Muslim American born and raised in Brooklyn, New York.
  • Kasey Jama, Executive Director, Center for Intercultural Organizing, Portland, OR -- Kayse Jama, a founder and executive director of the Center for Intercultural Organizing in Portland, Oregon, was born into a nomad family in Somalia, He is dedicated to building a multi-racial, multicultural movement for immigrant and refugee rights. As a New Voices Fellow at the Western States Center, Kayse trained immigrant and refugee community leaders. He is the recipient of numerous awards including: the Skidmore Prize for outstanding young non-profit professionals, the Oregon Immigrant Achievement Award from the Oregon Chapter of the American Immigrant Lawyers Association; and the Lowenstein Trust Award for the greatest contribution to assisting the poor and underprivileged in Portland, Oregon.