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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.