For over two decades, the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago (CIOGC) has served as the unifying force that brings together over 400,000 Muslim Americans in the greater Chicago region, and now increasingly all of Illinois. With over 60 member organizations, ranging from mosques, to Islamic schools and community organizations based in the Chicagoland region, the CIOGC is made up of a very large and diverse body. Muslims are represented by a wide array of ethnicities, races and cultures including African Americans, Nigerians, South Asians, Arabs, Bosnians, Albanians, Turks, Latinos, Caucasians, and many more. The Council brings these extraordinary communities together in cooperation and collaboration to engage and work with the interfaith community, government, media, and the public in general.
In December 2001, the Council collaborated with the Office of Chicago Mayor, Richard Daley, to implement Chicago’s first ever Islamic display, that was on display during the 2001-2002 holiday season at Daley Plaza, in the heart of downtown Chicago, along with Christian and Jewish holiday displays. In the early 2000s, the Council actively assisted the Chicago Police Department in the development and production of a diversity video to train and sensitize police officers and other security personnel, especially those assigned to Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports, about the concerns of Muslim-Americans subjected to security searches at airports and other facilities. This video has been resoundingly successful and, based on requests by police departments across the U.S., appears set for broad national use. The Council is responding to increasing requests for such sensitivity training assistance from police departments as well as other government agencies, such as the I.N.S. The Council’s effective co-hosting of the annual ISNA conventions and especially its vehement post-September 11 advocacy on behalf of the Muslim community has gained it national prominence among Muslim organizations.
Consequently, a significant portion of the interfaith dialogue in the Chicago area between Muslims and people of other faiths takes place under the auspices of the Council. Additionally, the Council has successfully collaborated on major cooperative projects with leading Chicago institutions. Among these projects are the historic “Chicagoans & Islam” gathering in November 2002 with United Power for Action & Justice (where, for the first time in the history of the US, about 2,500 Muslim Americans interacted on a one-on-one basis with fellow Americans from other faiths), various prominent interfaith events across the region – held independently and with partners like NCCJ, CPWR and the Office of Cardinal George; and prominent press conferences addressing a variety of topics including hate crimes, post 9-11 backlash, racial profiling, violation of civil rights of Americans and immigrants, with partners like the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), NCCJ, the Offices of City of Chicago Mayor, Richard Daley, Illinois Governor George Ryan and Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department, Terry Hillard.
In 2006, the Council established its highly-anticipated monthly publication, The Chicago Crescent, a print and online newspaper devoted to stories for and about the Muslim community across Chicagoland. In addition, the group distributes an informative and engaging weekly E-Newsletter that covers CIOGC news as well as general topics of interest to the Muslim community to thousands of subscribers encompassing a wide range of Council supporters across Chicago, Illinois, and the U.S. The Council also routinely manages and responds to requests for participation from local and national organizations and media outlets on topics and issues relating to Islam and Muslims and regularly holds meetings with editorial staff at prominent local print, broadcast, and online news media outlets to advocate on behalf of the Muslim community to ensure fair, accurate, and diverse coverage.