MPAC-WNY Celebrates 10th Anniversary During Sold-Out Banquet

Founding President Dr. Khalid Qazi Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

June 11, 2014

On Saturday, the Muslim Public Affairs Council’s Western New York Chapter celebrated its 10th anniversary with a sold-out banquet in Buffalo, NY. At the special event attended by more than 400 people, founding president Dr. Khalid Qazi received the Lifetime Achievement Award and MPAC President Salam Al-Marayati served as the keynote speaker.

SEE: “MPAC President Says American-Muslims Must Not Shy Away from Discussing their Religion” (Buffalo News)

“If all you do is define yourself as what you’re not, you will never get to define who you actually are,” Al-Marayati said in his remarks. “So public perception is about telling our story and making the American-Muslim narrative a common part of our culture, of our cultural media, of the Oprah show, of all the talk shows, of Hollywood. To tell more stories that involve American-Muslims as your neighbor, as your doctor, as your teacher, which we are.”

County Executive Mark Poloncarz, Mayor Byron W. Brown, Rep. Brian Higgins, and Kathy Hochul, candidate for lieutenant governor, congratulated the MPAC-WNY board and community for building bridges between elected government officials and agencies and the local Muslim community. Before an audience of local Muslims, interfaith leaders and fellow elected officials, Rep. Higgins said that Prophet Muhammad's message for friendship, justice and peace should be heeded by all people.

During the event, MPAC-Western New York honored:

  • William J. Hochul Jr., the U.S. attorney in Buffalo for developing a strong relationship with the local Muslim community
  • Hodan Isse, the former first lady of Somalia who teaches at the University at Buffalo
  • M. Raheemuddin, a community activist and philanthropist

Dr. Fuad Sherrif, who was recently elected President of MPAC-WNY, described 2014 as a milestone year in the group’s development and presented a surprise Lifetime Achievement Award to Qazi for “dedicating his life to the welfare of Muslims in Western New York.”

Fellow honoree Hochul commended Qazi for breaking down barriers between law enforcement and the Muslim community. Qazi was also honored by the Department of Justice in Washington, DC, last week with the Attorney General’s Citizen Volunteer Service Award during a private ceremony in honor of "his outstanding volunteer contributions to the department’s mission.”

SEE: Mutual Respect Brings Honors for Local Muslim Leader, Prosecutor (Buffalo News)

“The community started out as Muslims in America, but we have come to be American Muslims,” Qazi told the Buffalo News. “We have achieved an identity where we are proud Muslims and proud Americans, together.”

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