International Freedom Fighter, Advocate for the Rights of Muslim Women In Rare Public Appearance in Los Angeles -- Ayaan Hirsi Ali

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On Wednesday evening, October 22, 2008, from 7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m., Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who was born in Somalia and who TIME magazine included in its list of "100 of the World's Most Influential People" will make a rare public appearance in Los Angeles. Ms. Hirsi Ali will speak before several hundred members of the community at the Japan America Theatre at 244 South San Pedro Street in Little Tokyo where she will receive the inaugural Ziegler Prize for Courage of Conviction, conferred by vanguard civil rights and social criticism organization Community Advocates, Inc. (CAI). http://www.cai-la.org. Ms. Hirsi Ali will receive the Ziegler Prize for acting in a principled manner, in spite of great personal and professional risk.

On Wednesday evening, October 22, 2008, from 7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m., Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who was born in Somalia and who TIME magazine included in its list of "100 of the World's Most Influential People" will make a rare public appearance in Los Angeles. Ms. Hirsi Ali will speak before several hundred members of the community at the Japan America Theatre at 244 South San Pedro Street in Little Tokyo where she will receive the inaugural Ziegler Prize for Courage of Conviction, conferred by vanguard civil rights organization Community Advocates, Inc. (CAI).

Ayaan is an award-winning humanitarian and freedom fighter, and one of the most outspoken political figures in the world today. Ayaan first gained international attention following the murder in the Netherlands of Theo van Gogh, who had directed her short film, Submission, about the oppression of women under Islam. The assassin, a radical Muslim, left a death threat for her attached to a knife in van Gogh's chest. Determined not to be silenced and to voice the truth, Ayaan has committed her life to advocating for freedom of speech, the defense of the principles of the Enlightenment, the need to reform Islam, and the rights of Muslim women. Ayaan lives with round-the-clock protection. Her willingness to speak out and her abandonment of the Muslim faith have made her a target for violence by Islamic extremists. Disowned by her father, she has few ties left with her family. Threatened time and again with death, this courageous woman refuses to be silenced.

Ayaan will be in Los Angeles to accept the Ziegler Prize for Courage of Conviction to be conferred by former Los Angeles mayor, Richard J. Riordan, chairman of Community Advocates, Inc. The prestigious Ziegler Prize honors an individual--locally, nationally, or internationally-- who has demonstrated the qualities described so eloquently by President Kennedy--acting in a principled manner "in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures." The award recognizes the work of those who go against the grain of conventional wisdom, often at great personal or professional risk--attributes that Community Advocates deeply admires, and according to which the organization has tried to model itself.

Community Advocates, Inc. (CAI) is a vanguard civil rights and social criticism organization based in Los Angeles, CA. The President of CAI, David Lehrer, and the Vice President, Joe Hicks, are well-known and outspoken civil rights leaders and social critics, one a black conservative Republican, and the other a white, Jewish Democrat, who joined forces six years ago to form CAI. CAI is striving to re-frame discussions about controversial and provocative issues, particularly race, ethnic tensions, education, multi-culturalism, inner city violence amongst others, through new and updated lenses.

Chaired by former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan. CAI has been at the forefront of a fresh approach to race, ethnic and cultural issues in Los Angeles and throughout the country, attempting to challenge the dominant strategies of civil rights and human relations groups promoting instead critical discourse about common ground issues that transcend race, ethnicity, gender and religion. http://www.cai-la.org.

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RACHEL SCHWARTZ
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