In this Wednesday series, you can get to know the CAIR-Sacramento Valley team that’s defending your civil rights and immigrants’ rights, empowering youth, and fighting for justice for all.

Meet Policy & Advocacy Coordinator Mahmoud Zahriya!

What inspired you to work for CAIR-SV?

I was a longtime activist and felt the need to take my skills to the next level immediately after the announcement of the administration’s Muslim Travel Ban. I further started to see this same xenophobic narrative trickle down to local politics and inspire some elected officials in implementing their own discriminatory policies. The detention and separation of undocumented folks in Sacramento County at the Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center was an example of unjust practices that should have never been welcomed in our community. Although I have always been committed to civil rights and humanitarian efforts, prior to joining CAIR-SV I found myself exploring into business with two of my brothers. Whenever we see an opportunity we get excited and transform our ideas into a real tangible enterprise. We each had our own skills that contributed to our growing business endeavors. As a political science major with experiences in the field, I found myself often networking corporate elites by lobbying initiatives to further our business ventures. Although it was a skillset of mine, business isn’t necessarily something I enjoyed, but the collaboration and goal-oriented nature of my family is what kept me going. My true passion has always been advocating for progressive values. I was always known as the tree-hugger of the family and I intend on keeping it that way.

What do you hope to help CAIR-SV accomplish in the future?

To create an even stronger presence for CAIR’s commitment for social justice, most importantly prioritizing CAIR to be at the forefront of ALL advocacy efforts. 2018 was such an impactful year for CAIR-Sacramento, but our policy and advocacy efforts have only attracted more work that still needs to be done! It’s also important for us to strengthen and educate everyone on policy concerns that we’ve been advocating against but the community may be less aware of – such as CVE (Countering Violent Extremism Act).

What moment working in social justice had the greatest impact on you in the past year?

Meeting Dolores Huerta for the first time. It was an inspiring moment to meet such a pioneer who has consistently fought for social justice for over 50 years! It’s a constant reminder for myself to never let my people down and to always defend for our civil liberties no matter the consequences I may endure.

Basim Elkarra and Mahmoud Zahriya meet Dolores Huerta.

If you could describe yourself or your motto in one sentence, what would it be?

You give loyalty, you’ll get it back.

What is your favorite hobby outside of work?

Backpack, hike, explore and travel with my closest friends

What’s your favorite food?

Tacos (if i’m paying), Fish Face Poke (if Saad’s [my cousin and CAIR-SV’s civil rights attorney] paying)

What’s the last book you read?

“Berlin” by Jason Lutes. It sounds intellectual but honestly it’s just a comic book.

Favorite area coffee shop?

Old Soul or The Mill.

Looking to partner with CAIR-SV? You can contact Mahmoud at