Source: Los Angeles Times
On May 31, 2004 the Los Angeles Times reported, "Iraq topped the list of foreign policy concerns at the weekend convention of the Universal Muslim Assn. of America, a group formed last year to organize the Shiite community here and project a distinct voice on religious and public policy issues. Organizers said they hoped to issue a conference statement today that would condemn terrorism, call for a 'just peace' in Iraq based on Iraqi wishes and a urge deeper understanding of Shiite Muslims by Americans. But convention-goers also discussed issues ranging from the lingering impact of the attacks of Sept. 11 to interfaith relations and social pressures on young Muslims to date and drink. 'We are trying to build a new voice for the Muslim world,' said media coordinator Ali Alahmed. The conference's theme, 'Unity in Diversity,' illustrated some of the challenges facing the fledgling organization as it tries to pull together Shiites, who compose an estimated 10% to 20% of the nation's Muslims. In defining their association as American, conference organizers did not, for instance, require women to wear a hijab, a head scarf, or sit separately from men. They even held a youth mixer, encouraging members of the opposite sex to exchange information."