After being snubbed by Senator Barbara Boxer last winter, Basim Elkarra, the executive director of the local chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, has been showered with so many awards, it’s like he’s Katharine Hepburn at the Oscars.
Elkarra received a certificate of achievement from Boxer’s office last December, but it was yanked when the senator became concerned about CAIR’s agenda (See “CAIR defends its honor,” SN&R News, January 18, 2007). Since then, CAIR has tried to mend its reputation with the senator, and other groups have rushed to show Elkarra their appreciation.
In May, the Organization of Chinese Americans gave Elkarra an award for “bringing together diverse communities,” state Controller John Chiang presented Elkarra with a Certificate of Special Recognition for his leadership and service to Sacramento, the Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus presented a resolution honoring him for leading CAIR’s efforts “to serve as a voice to its diverse and vibrant Muslim community,” the Japanese American Citizens League honored Elkarra for “exemplary contributions to civil and human rights after 9/11,” and the Harry S. Truman Club gave Elkarra the Unsung Hero Award for his civil-rights work and for being an “outspoken proponent for worker and immigrant rights.”
A representative of the Truman Club said that their award was not in response to Boxer’s actions, but a representative of the state controller’s office acknowledged that local political groups probably knew about the scuffle and wanted to show Elkarra some appreciation.