We congratulate Zahra Billoo, civil rights attorney and Executive Director of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).

At the onset of 2017, Zahra joined the speaker lineup at the Women’s March on Washington and sued Donald Trump to challenge his “Muslim Ban” Executive Orders. In the course of her work at CAIR, Zahra is frequently seen at mosques and universities facilitating trainings and workshops as a part of CAIR’s grassroots efforts to empower the American Muslim community and build bridges with allies on civil rights issues. She also provides direct legal services for victims of law enforcement targeting and Islamophobia. Her work has been highlighted in local and national media outlets including the Christian Science Monitor, KTVU, MSNBC, NPR, and the San Jose Mercury News.

Among her awards and recognitions, Zahra has received the 2017 Human Rights Award from the Society of American Law Teachers, the 2014 Unsung Hero Award from the Nationals Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area Chapter, and the 2013 Trailblazer Award from the South Asian Bar Association of Northern California.

We are excited that she will be able to share her knowledge as a part of the Combatting Hate Crimes in Changing Times panel. There has been a tremendous increase in hate crimes in the past year against Muslims (and those perceived to be Muslims), South Asians, Arabs, Sikhs, Hindus, and Middle Eastern Americans. The current political climate, as well as the emergence of far right groups have contributed to this disturbing trend. The panelists will discuss the problem of hate crimes underreporting, the federal and state laws that are utilized to prosecute those suspected of perpetrating such crimes, applicable laws to pursue civil remedies against the alleged perpetrators and assisting victims of hate crimes in dealing with law enforcement agencies and other victims’ rights organizations. Madihha Ahussain, staff attorney at the Muslim Advocates is joined by Zahra Billoo, Executive Director at Council on American-Islamic Relations-SFBA; Tejpal Chawla, Assistant United States Attorney at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia; Arjun Sethi, Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center and Vanderbilt University Law School; and Suman Ragunathan, Executive Director at SAALT.