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Indiana Muslim Advocacy Network 2019 Year in Review

A Message from IMAN Associates President

On behalf of Indiana Muslim Advocacy Network (IMAN Associates), I would like to thank our supporters, staff, and volunteers for their commitment and trust. I remain incredibly proud of what IMAN Associates has been able to accomplish in its second year in operation. This year was marked with many momentous organizational accomplishments and meaningful ventures. Unfortunately, a substantial part of such efforts in 2019 were focused on collaborating a cohesive community wide response to tragedies inflicted upon our communities. These tragedies not only reinforce the necessity of IMAN Associates and its organizational objectives, but also validate the urgency of our mission. 2020 will be an important election year and an opportunity for our community to make its mark on the legislative process. We need your support and participation now more than ever. Please continue supporting your vision of empowering the political voice of Muslim Hoosiers. Thank you.

A closer look at IMAN Associates

Mission: Indiana Muslim Advocacy Network (IMAN Associates) will strive to provide Muslim Hoosiers an educated, organized and amplified political voice advocating for positive civic and political changes in the State of Indiana.

Vision: To help nurture an organized, informed and engaged Indiana Muslim Community with a unified, prominent and influential political voice.

IMAN Associates Board of Directors: The organization is blessed to have a dedicated Board of Directors who is relentlessly steering the organization into the right direction. Over the last year, they have volunteered their time and talent to provide full support to the organization. Our committed Board of Directors includes:

  • Syed Ali Saeed, President
  • Judge David Shaheed, Vice President
  • Mahmood Iqbal, Treasurer
  • Samia Alajlouni, Secretary
  • Ahmad Rami Saltagi
  • Asif Ansari
  • Eyas Raddad
  • Adam Paarlberg

2019 Year in Review

With your help and continued support, 2019 has been another successful year. We had amazing opportunities to influence public policy, engage Muslim Hoosiers and mobilize their vote. However, we had one historic opportunity that will put the Indiana Muslim community on the map: the candidacy of Dr. Fady Qaddoura, the first American Muslim to run for a state senate seat in Indiana, vying to represent State Senate District 30. Given that electing a Muslim candidate aligns with the strategic goals of the organization, his campaign received our full support. In September 2019, we formed a Political Action Committee (PAC) for the purpose of raising money to elect him. Since then, we were tirelessly engaged in a series of fundraisers in different parts of the state to secure the much needed funds. Moving forward, we plan to provide the necessary support to his campaign by recruiting volunteers from the Muslim community. We are overjoyed to heavily contribute to this historic candidacy, and hopefully witness the first American Muslim to serve on the Indiana General Assembly.

Our year-long activities and events had focused on three key areas: Influencing Public Policy, Community Engagement and Mobilizing the Muslim Vote. In this report, you will find a recount of such activities and programs and their impact on the Indiana Muslim community.

Influencing Public Policy

During the 2019 legislative session, IMAN Associates has channeled its lobbying efforts to advocate for the passage of Bias Crimes Legislation and Redistricting Reform.

To this end, IMAN Associates has joined Indiana Forward, a broad and bipartisan statewide campaign that advocates for a comprehensive hate crimes legislation and includes major state employers, faith groups, nonprofits, and third-party organizations that , as well as All IN for Democracy, a bipartisan coalition advocating for the creation of an independent citizen commission to draw the electoral maps.

Although the 2019 legislative session was wrapped up without reforming the redistricting process in Indiana, the Indiana General Assembly passed a Bias Crimes Legislation. On April 3, 2019, Gov. Eric Holcomb signed SB198 into a law, with the hope of getting Indiana off the list of states that do not have a hate crimes law. SB198, a bill that pertains to controlled substances in penal facilities, included an amendment that provides protection to a broad list of characteristics for victims of bias crimes (color, creed, disability, national origin, race, religion and sexual orientation).

2020 legislative session will be the last opportunity for IMAN Associates and All IN for Democracy coalition to end gerrymandering. We remain steadfast in our efforts to bring redistricting reform to Indiana and strengthening our representative democracy.

Through building bridges with elected officials, IMAN Associates strives to influence public policy, amplify the political voice of Muslim Hoosiers and advocate for issues that matter to our community. Here is a recap of our meetings with legislators and elected officials in the last year:

In February 2019, on the heels of the abhorrent hate crime that took the life of a young Muslim, Mustafa Ayoubi, IMAN Associates had facilitated a meeting for Zahra Ayoubi and some key Muslim leaders with Sen. Victoria Spartz, Sen. Greg Taylor, Rep. Cherrish Pryor, and Rep. Peggy Mayfield. The attendees had a candid discussion with the legislators, which furthered their understanding of various elements and the nuances of the bias crimes law debate.

On March 21, 2019, representatives from IMAN Associates met with U.S. Senator Todd Young, who offered his condolences to Muslim Hoosiers in the wake of the New Zealand deadly attacks and accentuated his commitment to building bridges with the Muslim community in the state of Indiana.

Another meeting with U.S. Senator Todd Young took place on July 26, 2019, during which Sen. Young expressed his concerns about President Trump’s anti-immigrants tweets, asking four Congresswomen “to go back where they came from.”

One of the state legislators whom IMAN Associates had the honor to work closely with in two different occasions is State Senator J.D. Ford. On April 2, 2019, Senator J. D. Ford sponsored an Islamic prayer that opened the session at the Senate chamber, led for the first time by a Muslim sister. On August 9, 2019, Sen. J.D. Ford passed a resolution honoring the life of Mustafa Ayoubi, a young Muslim lost to a heinous hate crime in February 2019.

(Left) Sister Wafa Safi Hassan leading the Islamic prayer at the Indiana Senate Chamber. (Right) A resolution passed by State Senator J.D. Ford honoring the life of Mustafa Ayoubi.

On September 17, 2019, IMAN Associates has coordinated a meeting with Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett with Muslim community leaders, representing Al Salam Foundation, Indianapolis Muslim Community Association (IMCA), Masjid Al-Mumineen, Al-haqq Foundation and IMAN Associates board members. Attendees had an engaging conversation with Mayor Hogsett and discussed various topics including fostering the inclusion of Muslim Hoosiers, criminal justice reform and economic development in the city of Indianapolis.

Participants in the meeting highlights the unique diversity in our community

Community Engagement

Our newsletter is an important vehicle for community engagement. It keeps the Muslim community informed of the latest updates at the Indiana Statehouse. In addition, through its collaboration with various mosques, Islamic centers and organizations, IMAN Associates is able to reach out to hundreds of Muslim Hoosiers and engage them on numerous legislative issues.

On March 2nd, 2019, IMAN Associates, in collaboration with Faith in Indiana, hosted Muslim Public Leadership Training at Masjid Alhuda. The training focused on cultivating participants' leadership skills and inspiring them to take action. It also provided attendees with numerous advocacy tools, essential for their political engagement.

Empowering representatives from different mosques in the Greater Indianapolis area with political leadership skills and various advocacy tools.

In collaboration with Muslim Alliance of Indiana (MAI), IMAN Associates held Muslim Day at the Statehouse on March 27, 2019. This annual event provided the attendees with an opportunity to learn about a variety of legislative issues and meet a number of legislators, including State Senator Jim Merritt and State Senator J.D. Ford. Also, the event featured experts on various legislative topics, including Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry who discussed the heated debate of the Bias Crimes Legislation, and Julia Vaughn, Policy Director at Common Cause Indiana, who explained how Redistricting Reform can enhance voter rights and diminish partisan advantage. The event concluded with Dr. Khadija Khaja, Associate Professor at IUPUI School of Social Work, who shared the findings of a recent study they conducted about religious-based bullying in Indiana.

(Left) Sen. Jim Merritt (R- Indianapolis) informed the audience of his recent legislative efforts in combatting the Opioid crisis. (Right) Sen. JD Ford (D- Zionsville) explained how Redistricting Reform thwarts our democracy and affects the legislative process. 

On May 5, 2019, IMAN Associates members and Advisory Council members convened for the Bi-annual General Body Meeting and participated in discussions on an array of legislative topics, including the Bias Crimes Legislation and Affordable Housing Shortage in the Greater Indianapolis area, the latter being explored by Sen. Jim Merritt. The meeting concluded with our guest speaker, Dr. Shariq Siddiqui, the Inaugural Director of Muslim Philanthropy Initiative at Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, who delved into the different advocacy activities that 501(c)(3) faith-based nonprofit organizations (including mosques, Islamic charities and schools) can undertake.

IMAN Associates President, Syed Ali Saeed, providing the attendees with an overview of the organizational activities during 2019 Legislative Session.

Sen. Jim Merritt taking questions from participants on the root causes and any potential legislative fixes to the shortage of affordable housing in the Greater Indianapolis area. 

Dr. Siddiqui stressing that the 501(c)(3) status given to faith-based organizations by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) encourages their involvement in advocacy.

On September 7, 2019, IMAN Associates Executive Director, Hiba Alami, visited Alhuda Foundation, where she explored how to build bridges with elected officials. She dwelled on the reasons for building those bridges and the different ways the Indiana Muslim community can flex its political muscles.

On October 25, 2019, IMAN Associates coordinated a visit for Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness and Fishers City Council President Richard Block to Alhuda Foundation. Mayor Fadness expressed his commitment to growing Fishers as a diverse, welcoming city to all. Alhuda community members took this opportunity to meet and greet the Mayor and City Council President and engage in conversations with them about the bright future of their thriving city.

Alhuda Foundation President, Dr. Arman Siddiqui, presents Mayor Scott Fadness with a token of appreciation for his leadership.

On December 14, 2019, IMAN Associates had its second bi-annual General Body Meeting where they hosted Sen. Vistoria Spartz to discuss a highly anticipated issue for the 2020 Legislative Session: controlling health care costs in the state of Indiana. Attendees were updated by Syed Ali Saeed, IMAN Associates President, of the latest activities and events the organization partook in the second half of the year, and explored with our lobbyist, Elizabeth Kelley Cierzniak, the different legislative issues the study committees focused on in the summer and those expected to take the frontline at the upcoming session.

Also, attendees had the opportunity to meet Dr. Fady Qaddoura, a Muslim candidate running for State Senate District 30, and learn from him his political priorities and ask him questions.

Mobilizing the Muslim Vote

​One of the strategic goals of IMAN Associates is to mobilize the Muslim vote. To achieve this goal, the organization took the first step and collected data about the concentration of Muslim voters in house and senate districts around the state. Each election cycle, the organization plans to identify competitive races, hold "Meet the Candidate" events, run voter registration drives and Get Out the Vote (GOTV) campaigns.

In 2019, IMAN Associates reached hundreds of Indiana Muslim voters via its newsletter and social media and urged them to get out the vote on Primary and General election days. One of the most heated races in the 2019 municipal election was Indianapolis Mayoral Race. To help Indianapolis Muslims make an informed decision at the polls, IMAN Associates collaborated with Indianapolis Muslim Community Association (IMCA) and held Indianapolis Mayoral Candidate Forum on August 25, 2019. State Senator Jim Merritt For Mayor (R), Dr. Fady Qaddoura (Indianapolis City Controller and Chief Financial Officer) on behalf of Mayor Hogsett (D), and Mr. Douglas McNaughton (L) discussed their political priorities and answered the attendees' questions.

Community members representing IMCA, Masjid Al-Mumineen and Muslim Community Center attending the event and engaging with the guests.

On November 9, 2019, IMAN Associates coordinated "Thinking Ahead to 2020," a think tank session for Muslim community leaders to craft a strategy to politically engage the Muslim community in the months leading up to 2020 election. Representatives from various mosques in the Greater Indianapolis area shared their input and came up with strategic goals that aim at building the political power of the Muslim community.

IMAN Associates board member, Dr. Eyas Raddad, leading the strategic planning session.

On July 3, 2019, IMAN Associates published the results of a phone bank it conducted in the weeks leading up to 2018 mid-term election. The organization collaborated with Faith in Indiana and Emgage to run the first Muslim-to-Muslim GOTV campaign in Indiana and strategically chose State Senate District 29 (SD29) since it is the most densely Muslim populated senate district in the state. With over 3,000 calls made to Muslim registered voters in SD29, this targeted campaign contributed to a 39 points increase in Muslim voter turnout in that district from the 2014 mid-term election.

Following a national trend, IMAN Associates focused its efforts on increasing Muslim voter turnout in the 2018 Mid-term elections.

Given that electing a Muslim candidate aligns with the strategic goals of the organization, IMAN Associates formed a Political Action Committee (PAC) in September 2019. The purpose of this PAC is to raise money to help elect Dr. Fady Qaddoura, who is vying to represent State Senate District 30. When elected, Dr. Qaddoura will be the first American Muslim to serve in the Indiana General Assembly.

To learn about Dr. Fady Qaddoura's political priorities, visit the PAC webpage here.

2019 Budget and Finances

IMAN Associates' operational costs are covered entirely by the generous private donors of our membership program. The 2019 comprehensive financial report, scheduled to be released to our membership late January 2020, will provide an in depth analysis of the 2019 finances and projections for 2020 fiscal year. We are grateful for the overwhelming support we received so far and we strive to grow our budget to continue our journey in amplifying the political voice of Muslim Hoosiers and advocating on their behalf in the Indiana Statehouse.

Thank You

2019 has been an incredible year! Thank you for your support every step of the way, and we look forward to continuing the journey with you in 2020 and beyond.