Council on American Islamic Relations opens chapter

The Council on American Islamic Relations will hold a ribbon-cutting today in Las Vegas to mark the official opening of its first chapter in Nevada.

Mayor Oscar Goodman is scheduled to assist in the ribbon-cutting at the new office, located at 501 S. Sixth St., and to deliver brief remarks during the 2:30 p.m. ceremony.

Yasser Moten, executive director of the Nevada chapter, said it will serve the estimated 18,000 Muslim-Americans who live in the Las Vegas Valley through civil rights advocacy, education, media outreach and governmental relations.

He said the outreach effort provides a way to curb civil rights violations against Muslims, which have increased nationwide in recent years. "We just wanted to take a proactive approach," Moten said.

He said the Nevada chapter will not only serve Muslims; it also will help educate non-Muslims about Islam. He said studies show that non-Muslims who know a Muslim person have better perceptions of Islam and Muslims than non-Muslims who do not.

Moten said the Council on American Islamic Relations has chapters in 19 states.