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California Sets August as Muslim Appreciation Month

CALIFORNIA – In recognition of Muslim efforts in the state, California State Assembly recognized August 2016 as Muslim Appreciation and Awareness Month on Monday, August 1, becoming the first American state to give Muslims such recognition.

“Muslim Americans have made contributions to education, science, entertainment and medicine both nationally and globally,” Bill Quirk, California Assembly member, told NBC News in an email.

“Unfortunately, the Muslim community has been, and continues to be, the target of harassment, discrimination and assaults.”

“It is appropriate to acknowledge and promote awareness of the myriad invaluable contributions of Muslim Americans in California and across the country, and extend to them the respect and camaraderie every American deserves,” he added.

The resolution, HR-59, was introduced by Quirk in June after he was approached by a community activist on the issue.

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It followed a sharp increase in anti-Muslim rhetoric according to a recent civil rights report compiled by the California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

The resolution was commended by CAIR-Sacramento Valley Executive Director Basim Elkarra told NBC News that the passing of the resolution represented a day of hope for the Muslim-American community.

He added that Muslims contribute greatly to the diversity of the nation and the state, carrying various key roles throughout the state of California as engineers, doctors, law enforcement officials, and more.

“Muslims participate in every facet of life in California and for them to be appreciated for their contributions … it’s very hopeful for the community when the community is under siege in this election cycle,” Elkarra said.

At the Muslim Appreciation and Awareness Month Celebration in Sacramento, California, on Monday, Zahra Billoo, executive director of CAIR-San Francisco Bay Area (CAIR-SFBA), emphasized the resolution’s timeliness given recent events on the 2016 campaign trail.

“It’s particularly important for me as a Muslim woman to be speaking out and to be joined by my colleagues here … to send a strong message that we are speaking out for ourselves, that we are proud residents of this state, and that we are stronger when we stand together,” Billoo said.

This is not the first time California has designated a month to recognize the contributions of the Muslim-American community.

In 2014, the Los Angeles City Council adopted a resolution declaring July 2014 as Muslim American Heritage Month.