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Local Muslim Leader to Speak at National Conference

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Ibrahim Ramey is the Director of Human and Civil Rights for the Muslim American Society, or MAS, Freedom Foundation. He says the timing of this year's conference MAS-ICNA (Islamic Circle of North America) Conference, in the midst of renewed and sometimes, in his eyes, unfair media interest in America's Muslim community, isn't all bad.

"I do think that when incidents like the Fort Hood situation, and the situation of the young men in Pakistan come up -- it gives us an opportunity to articulate more about who we are and what we do, and what our concerns are," Ramey says.

He says his organization, and the larger Muslim Community, is concerned the same things not unlike the concerns of many other religious faiths and ethnic groups in U.S.

"Hunger, poverty, social justice, civil and human rights -- you can take it from there," he says.

Ramey says the five-day conference will focus those larger those issues, much more so than any recent headlines. But he also says he knows current events will shape many of event's discussions.

One thing that may come up is the relationship between law enforcement and Muslim leaders -- a relationship that seemed to bear fruit in the ongoing investigation of the 5 young men from Alexandria arrested in Pakistan.

Ramey says cooperation is essential, but he worries that federal law enforcement has too often attempted infiltration of mosques and other Muslim organizations instead.

"Law enforcement needs to come through the front door of the mosque, and not the back door," he says.

Ramey says a recognition from the government, and the public, of how American Muslim organizations like MAS, or the Council on American Islamic Relations have long worked to promote social justice, would help.

"We've been really on the front lines for social change for decades, and it's time that people recognize that," he says. The conference, which lasts until Sunday, is expected to draw thousands.

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