Fighting Discrimination Against Muslims Fights Discrimination For Everyone, Shibly Says
The Council on American-Islamic Relations of Florida, Inc. (CAIR-FL.), operating as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, was chartered in 2001 to challenge stereotypes of Muslims and Islam and defend the civil liberties of Floridians. Most of the work of CAIR-FL has focused on tenacious efforts to combat Islamophobia.
CAIR-FL Focuses on Religious Freedom for All Floridians
A particularly high-profile concern of CAIR-FL in recent years has been preserving the right of religious bodies to mediate disputes among their members.
Many Floridians are already familiar with judicial systems sponsored by faith groups.
A council of rabbis (or a rabbi and two well-educated lay people) called a beit din, for instance, mediates disputes between individuals and oversees divorces. The beit din does not claim any authority over non-Jews. Settlements reached with the beit din are recorded in state and federal government courts as US and Florida laws require.
Roman Catholics have a system of canon law for deciding marital disputes and even some property disputes. Orthodox churches don’t have canon lawyers but have a Pedalion enumerating legal opinions. Episcopalians, Lutherans, Methodists, and Presbyterians have church courts that decide on rules and order for clergy and local congregations.
In Islam, the judicial system is known as shariah. No one thing is universally accepted as shariah, but Muslims generally seek spiritual guidance to reach settlements of disputes with other Muslims. They seek the guidance of shariah authorities before they get a divorce, when settling an estate, and when creating ways to finance a new business without charging interest.
The shariah courts have no authority except consent and do not make decisions for non-Muslims. Under director Hassan Shilby, CAIR-FL has taken on the task of explaining the shariah courts to a public that is largely misinformed about them. CAIR-FL also protects the rights of organizations within Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, actually, any religion, and no religion at all, to study their own spiritual principles to reach practical decisions—while respecting the rights of others to do the same and staying submissive to Florida and US law.
But the work of CAIR-FL does not stop there.
CAIR-FL Stands Up Against Discrimination for Everyone
Under Hassan Shilby’s leadership, CAIR-FL has grown into one of Florida’s largest and most active civil rights organizations. CAIR=FL offers free legal representation to discrimination victims regardless of race, gender, or religion.
Unlawful discrimination against one Floridian weakens the civil rights of all Floridians, Shilby says. To preserve the civil rights of all Floridians, CAIR-FL spends over $1 million a year maintaining n offices in Tampa, Orlando, and Ft. Lauderdale. CAIR-FL helps hundreds of victims of discrimination annually while educating thousands more to prevent discrimination.
Who Is Hassan Shilby?
Hassan Shibly describes himself as a committed civil rights activist working to ensure America can remain a place where children of people of all faiths and backgrounds can grow up proud of their identity without fear of discrimination and harassment. A 2011 graduate of the University at Buffalo School of Law and a Family Law Mediator licensed by the Florida Supreme Court, Shilby practices civil rights law in Tampa.