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Muslim Lawyers Plan Strategy for a Trump Era

Muslim Lawyers Plan Strategy for a Trump Era

The agenda for the meeting of the Capital Area Muslim Bar Association on Nov. 29 is not what the group had originally planned.

It all changed after Donald Trump won the election.

“People right now are struggling to figure out where we’re going to focus our efforts,” said Fatema Merchant, a member of the Capital Area Muslim Bar Association (CAMBA) board and a senior associate in the Washington office of Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton.

Civil rights, hate crimes, First Amend­ment protection, immigration law and election law are some of the concerns of the 100-member organization, Merchant said. The challenge is to determine how to spend the group’s energy. “We can’t do everything,” she said.

CAMBA is among Muslim attorney groups nationwide grappling with changes expected in the professional and private lives of Muslim lawyers following Trump’s election. Of particular worry is his proposal to create a Muslim registry.

Leaders of the National Association of Muslim Lawyers in January will attend a strategy retreat to discuss legal issues likely to arise during the Trump administration, said Asifa Quraishi-Landes, president of the national group and a professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School. The group has recently reorganized its board and created a new membership process. It has an active listserv of about 700 users, Quraishi-Landes estimated. The group will hold an annual conference for members later next year, she said.

Muslim Advocates, a legal advocacy and education organization based in the San Francisco Bay Area, is leading a national teleconference for attorneys also on Nov. 29, Merchant said. The meeting is in conjunction with a GivingTuesday fundraiser for the organization, which works to protect the rights of American Muslims and those of other faiths.

In Washington, about 35 members of CAMBA are expected to attend its annual meeting at 6 p.m. at Sheppard Mullin, Merchant said. Members of CAMBA include private practitioners, public interest lawyers and law students.

“It’s time to stop moping around and start acting,” Merchant said.

Part of the original plan for Tuesday’s meeting was for Reema Dodin, who serves as floor director to Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Illinois, and runs the whip operation for the Senate Democratic leadership, to speak about her career path and work in public service. Now, Dodin will talk about Congress’ role during Trump’s term.

One of CAMBA’s goals is to publish opinion pieces and essays that present her group’s concerns and views, Merchant said.

She said her greatest concern is the uncertainty about what could happen to Muslims if a domestic terrorist attack occurs.

“Trump’s talked about a proposed total ban and a registry,” she said. “All we have right now are his words.”


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