Glenn Greenwald Ventures Behind the Orange Curtain for American-Islamic Celebration

Glenn Greenwald was already an influential columnist before June of this year, most notably for his recent work at Salon and The Guardian but also for contributions to publications ranging from The New York Times and Los Angeles Times to The National Interest and The American Conservative. But the 46-year-old's fame skyrocketed on June 5, with the first in a series of Guardian pieces based on classified documents from Edward Snowden on the massive U.S. and British surveillance programs.

Now Greenwald's venturing behind the Orange Curtain.

He's scheduled to keynote the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Greater Los Angeles' 17th annual Faith in Freedom banquet Nov. 16 at the Anaheim Hilton.

The author of three New York Times bestsellers and winner of the first Izzy Award for independent journalism in 2009 and the Online Journalism Award for Best Commentary in 2010, Greenwald has not only opined about spy-shamed Snowden, the former CIA and NSA consultant now "living incognito in Russia," according to the Guardian.

Greenwald also blasted the prison conditions of U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning, describing the accused WikiLeaks leaker as "a whistle-blower acting with the noblest of motives" and "a national hero similar to Daniel Ellsberg."

Also scheduled to appear at the CAIR-LA banquet is Imam Siraj Wahhaj, religious director of At-Taqwa Mosque in New York and leader of the Muslim Alliance in North America. When Wahhaj was a teen known as Jeffrey Kearse, he taught Sunday school at a Baptist church in Brooklyn. He got interested in the Nation of Islam while on the New York University basketball team and subsequently converted, changing his name to Jeffrey12x.

He admits he preached and taught that "white people are devils," but after Elijah Muhammed died in 1975, those teachings "began to unravel" in his mind and he flocked to orthodox Islam and later changed his name again to Siraj Wahhaj, which means "bright light" in Arabic. In 1991, he became the first Muslim to give the opening prayer to the U.S. House of Representatives. Wahhaj is now invited to speak around the country, where he encourages Muslims to be God-fearing, evil-forbidding, pro-charity and anti-drug.

The third speaker at the CAIR-LA event is award-winning playwright and performance artist Rohina Malik, who was born and raised in London but migrated to Chicago with her family at age 15. Her acclaimed play Unveiled, which is about Muslim women post 9/11, had its world premiere at the 16th Street Theater in Berwyn, Illinois, in 2009, which led to a one-year residency at The Goodman theater in Chicago.

Unveiled, which is often presented as a one-woman show, has gone on to be staged in San Francisco, Baltimore and New Jersey. Malik's later works include Yasmina's Necklace and The Mecca Tales.

Besides the speakers, the CAIR-LA dinner will include a children's "CAIRnival" (get it?) with games, prizes and more. Registration begins at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 16, with the dinner and program starting an hour later at 777 W. Convention Way, Anaheim. For ticket information, visit

Email: Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!


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