BOSTON, December 4— On the heels of the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the U.N. Human Rights Day, the Cultural Center at the The American Islamic Congress (AIC) will host its fourth annual benefit.

“Human rights is core to AIC’s mission and values. As the Middle East remains unstable and conflict-ridden, AIC celebrates its efforts to engage American and Middle Eastern civil society leaders and create positive outlets for engaging young people,” said AIC Executive Director Zainab al-Suwaij. “This night celebrates the light of diversity, leadership, and community service.”

“In this spirit, AIC also joined this month the campaign to petition for the U.S. ratification of the U.N. Right of the Child Convention,” she added.

The centerpiece of the evening is an awards ceremony honoring community leaders and innovators – some famous and some unsung heroes – who are making a powerful impact both in Greater Boston and around the world. All proceeds benefit AIC’s unique programming.

WHO: AIC’s Executive Director Zainab Al Suwaij will make opening remarks.

Dr. Nada Farhat, a prominent Saudi-American artist, will host the event and present the following awards:

Lifetime Achievement Award:
The late Samina Quraeshi & Richard Shepard: partners in life and work, they were an architect and an artist who devoted their careers to integrating design, education, cultural ambassadorship and authorship to help bring out distinct cultural community voices. Their multidisciplinary practice in architecture, design, illustrated books and visual art stretched from South Asia to Boston.

Community Activist of the Year Award:
Dr. Omar Salem: Originally from Damascus, Syria, Dr. Salem has mobilized a diverse coalition in Boston and provided urgent care on the ground in refugee camps. He regularly visits refugee camps in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan. Dr. Salem will be in Turkey during the ceremony and will videotape a message with Syrian children refugees from the school he will be visiting.

Youth Activist of the Year Award:
Amani El Sehrawey: A native of Cape Cod, Ms. El Sehrawey has served Muslim communities for several years. She interned at AIC’s former North African headquarters in Cairo several months after the 25 January revolution and she assisted in democratic awareness and Muslim-Coptic interfaith work.

Please visit: for full bios.

The evening’s celebration includes a marquis performance by Boston’s award-winning Dunya Ensemble, featuring soprano Burcu Gulec and Dr. Mehmet Ali Sanlikol; an interactive exhibit spotlighting traditional costumes from Boston’s unusual cultural mosaic; a charity auction with great prizes; and Mediterranean cuisine from Sabur Restaurant.

WHEN: Friday, December 13, 2013, 6:30pm.

WHERE: AIC Boston Center, 38 Newbury Street, Suite 702
Boston, MA 02116.

RSVP: All interested media must RSVP to Anna Borshchevskaya at 202-469-7191 or


The American Islamic Congress (AIC) is a nonprofit, non-religious, anti-extremism civil society development organization serving Muslims and Non-Muslims by promoting civil and human rights through advocacy, engagement, and education.