CAIR was founded in 1994 in response to growing anti-Muslim discrimination and Islamophobia across the nation. At that time, American Muslims increasingly found themselves the innocent targets of prejudice and hate, and the need for an organization that could speak to the unique position of Muslims in America became apparent. Leadership from local Muslim communities, with support from other minority and civil rights groups, helped launch an organization founded on Islamic and American principles that demonstrate their mutually reinforcing values.
While CAIR is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with headquarters in Washington, D.C., 27 local chapters enable the organization to remain rooted in the community and aware of the civil rights issues affecting the day-to-day lives of American Muslims across the country. Sharing the same values, mission and vision, each chapter has a board and is locally funded. CAIR is recognized as both a national and local leader and champion of civil rights for all Americans, with a particular focus on discrimination and challenges faced by American Muslims.
In California, CAIR serves the community through four local offices covering the Greater Los Angeles Area, the San Francisco Bay Area, San Diego and the Sacramento Valley. While each office functions autonomously in terms of local programs and fundraising efforts, CAIR-CA works collectively to build a stronger statewide foundation for protecting the rights of American Muslims, building bridges of understanding, promoting an accurate image of Muslims, and sharing the responsibility of building a great community and a great country.
CAIR-CA began in 1994 with its first chapter in the San Francisco Bay Area, opening its doors almost simultaneously with the opening of CAIR National headquarters in Washington, D.C., in June of that year. Starting with only volunteers and no money, CAIR garnered community support in a grass-roots effort and has since grown into a vibrant organization that serves the state with more than 1 million Muslims. The CAIR-Greater Los Angeles Area office was founded in 1996 by a small group of dedicated volunteers, including current Executive Director Hussam Ayloush, two years after CAIR National was founded in Washington, D.C. CAIR-Sacramento Valley (CAIR-SV) was founded in 2002, with an eye toward influencing statewide policy by engaging the state’s elected officials. CAIR-San Diego was operated by a group of volunteers, who later became the local Governance Board, who wanted to see a more active presence of CAIR-CA in the San Diego region in 2004.
CAIR-SV continues to serve the Sacramento Valley, Central California and far-Northern California regions up to the Oregon border. While it is uniquely situated to advocate for public policy in the State Capitol, it also aims to protect the civil rights and immigrants in the region, along with empowering youth.
Our dedication and capacity to protect your civil liberties has grown and continues to grow ever stronger.