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Atlanta Mayor Reed’s position on immigrants honored by Islamic Speakers Bureau

Atlanta mosque, minaret

The minaret of the Al-Farooq Mosque, in Atlanta, carries on the tradition of serving as a high place from which worshippers were called to prayer. Credit: Kelly Jordan

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new photos by Kelly Jordan.

By David Pendered

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has received the first-ever Courage Award issued by the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta. The award recognizes Reed’s support for President Obama’s positions on immigration, which include tenets opposed by President-elect Donald Trump.

On Nov. 28, 20 days after the election, Reed expressed his support for immigrants and offered resources for refugees and foreign-born residents through the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs.

Reed’s announcement came in response to Trump’s vows to dismantle Obama’s two executive orders that provided deportation relief for millions of undocumented immigrants. Trump has said he will immediately end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and a related Obama program, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). The Supreme Court blocked DAPA in a ruling issued in June.

“We will immediately terminate President Obama’s two illegal executive amnesties, in which he defied federal law and the Constitution to give amnesty to approximately 5 million illegal immigrants,” Trump said in his Aug. 31 Address on Immigration.

In his Nov. 28 statement, Reed observed:

  • “The City of Atlanta is the dominant cultural and economic center of the Southeast. My administration is determined to use the full strength of that position to lead with policies that uphold and enhance the civil rights of all our residents….
  • Atlanta mosque, prayer hall

    Inside the Al-Farooq Mosque, a landmark on 14th Street near the Georgia Tech campus, the musalla, or prayer hall, is bare because worshippers sit, kneel and bow directly on the floor. Credit: Kelly Jordan

    “We will continue to vigorously protect and support immigrant students who are DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients. We value the economic and cultural vitality these young people bring to our City.

  • Atlanta will not tolerate acts of hatred against our residents and visitors. We will prosecute crimes of this nature to the fullest extent of the law….
  • “As Mayor, I pledge that your government will not waver in its commitment to inclusivity and diversity, and will remain open and welcoming to all.”

Reed’s message resonated within the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta, according to comments included in a statement released by the mayor’s office:

  • “We appreciate Mayor Kasim Reed’s courage in declaring Atlanta as a welcoming city for Syrian refugees. Last month, Mayor Reed reaffirmed his commitment and the city’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. We also see that he implements initiatives that reinforce that commitment,” said Soumaya Khalifa, executive director and founder of the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta.
Soumaya Khalifa, islamic speakers bureau

Soumaya Khalifa founded the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta and worked to promote relations among various faith groups. Credit: huffingtonpost.com

According to the statement released by the mayor’s office, Reed convened the Welcoming Atlanta Working Group in 2014. Membership included stakeholders who could provide recommendations to make the city more welcoming for foreign-born residents. Reed formalized the program when he established the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, according to the statement from the mayor’s office. The statement observes:

  • “Welcoming Atlanta aims to foster a connected community where all Atlantans can fully participate in civic life, contribute their talents to grow our city’s economy and work together with those entrusted to protect our public safety to make Atlanta a safe and friendly place to live and do business.”

The Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta, for its part, provides a number of outreach programs including one titled, Cultural Competency for Law Enforcement: Working with American Muslims. The program was:

  • “Developed for law enforcement at the federal, state and local levels in non-emergency situations.  Law enforcement gains insight to effectively interacting with the American Muslim communities.  In addition, the training provides suggestions on how to build sustainable relationships with the American Muslim community. The interactive workshop can include case studies and role plays.”
Atlanta mosque, dome

The interior of the dome of the Al-Farooq Mosque, in Atlanta, is highly decorated with floral and geometric patterns. Credit: Kelly Jordan

Atlanta mosque, minaret

The minaret of the Al-Farooq Mosque, in Atlanta, carries on the tradition of serving as a high place from which worshippers were called to prayer. Credit: Kelly Jordan


David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.



  1. InfraredGuy December 21, 2016 8:28 am

    Reed is all about inclusiveness, inclusiveness of car jackers, home invaders, con artists, sexual predators and drive-by shooters so bring is a extra helping of potential terrorists is right down his alley. Sad that the very people that voted him into office suffer the most under his Administration but hey, they can always go ride the Streetcar to nowhere and think how much he ” cared ” about them.Report

  2. Burroughston Broch December 22, 2016 9:49 pm

    His Dishonor’s attraction to disruptive elements in society is akin to girls being attracted to “dangerous” men. In my memory this habit began with Democrats thinking it chic to hobnob with and support Puerto Rican gangs in NYC. Then they moved on to the Black Panthers, then… You know the rest.Report

  3. rikimaru December 31, 2016 8:19 pm

    thank you for providing information that is good and worthy to read I hope there will be more good people like you


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