History Connects Muslim-Americans, Japanese-Americans

May 6, 2009

Author: Angie El Sherif

Source: InFocus News


For 14-year-old Sarah Rafiqi, a freshman at Valencia High School in Placentia, Calif., taking part in the Bridging Communities program was a way to learn about others in neighboring communities. “I wanted to join because I think it is a good idea for kids of different ethnicities and races to come together and form a bond and a friendship,” Rafiqi said. “It’s important to see the differences and similarities because I think that that is the only way that we can have a peaceful future.”

Going into the program, Rafiqi did not know anyone well. But she said that over the course of the program, she has made a lot of very good friends, some from the Japanese-American community. “It became really easy to connect,” she said. “We were all really different, but were also similar in a lot of ways.”

Every year, the greater Los Angeles-area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, Japanese American Citizens League - Pacific Southwest District, and Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress organize a program known as Bridging Communities to teach Muslim-American and Japanese-American high school youth about each other’s cultures. This year, about 40 students from southern California participated.

The program is meant to connect the two cultures in order for them to learn about their heritage, ethnic identity, religion, civil rights, activism, and experiences following the Pearl Harbor and 9/11 attacks.