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Jayapal Announces State of the Union Guest

SEATTLE – Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal will bring Aneelah Afzali, the Executive Director of the American Muslim Empowerment Network (AMEN), an initiative of the Muslim Association of Puget Sound (MAPS), as her guest for the 2017 State of the Union address on Tuesday, February 28.

“Aneelah’s story is the American story,” said Rep. Jayapal. “A Muslim American woman of color, Aneelah has devoted her life to fighting for justice and equality. The president’s policies marginalize entire communities and target people like Aneelah for their race and religious beliefs.”

“She represents everything good about our country and I could not be prouder to have her as my guest. The president cannot hide from those he is threatening,” Jayapal continued. “Here’s my message for Donald Trump: Our State of the Union is strong when all of our communities are strong.”

“I am honored by the invitation from my representative, a fierce champion for the rights of all people,” said Afzali. “I’m attending the State of the Union to showcase the diversity that truly makes our country great and highlight the positive contributions of American Muslims to our nation, at a time when fearmongering and scapegoating are being used to demonize Muslims along with other minority communities.”

“America must stand for religious freedom, equal protection under the law, and diversity,” Afzali said. “If our values are under attack, all Americans should fight back. That is our patriotic duty.”

Since taking office, President Trump has launched a shock and awe campaign against American values. His administration has taken aim at the rights of women, people of color, working families, immigrants and the LGBTQ community, while flouting our Constitution’s system of checks and balances.

There has been a rise in hate crimes targeting minorities across the country since President Trump’s election. In Redmond, Washington, vandals destroyed the sign outside of MAPS – Afzali’s mosque. The President of MAPS called the destruction a “clear act of hate.”

Afzali is the founder and Executive Director of AMEN, which is a new initiative of MAPS to respond to the challenges of our times. She currently serves as a Board Member of the Faith Action Network and is the Director of Legal Clinic at the Muslim Community Resource Center. Afzali is an attorney and graduate of Harvard Law School who made partner at a law firm and led as General Counsel of a local healthcare IT company. In addition to her legal practice, Aneelah cofounded the Middle Eastern Legal Association of Washington and served as inaugural president for two years. She graduated from the University of Oregon Honors College and was named a Chayes International Service Fellow at Harvard Law School.

Afzali is a community activist, interfaith leader, and seeker of knowledge. She enjoys traveling, snowboarding, football, and is a proud Seahawks and Ducks fan.