Basim Elkarra

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Basim Elkarra

Basim Elkarra is executive director of the Sacramento chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations.

Radical background

Basim Elkarra, executive director of the Sacramento chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), and a former member of the California Democratic Party’s executive board, has been defeated in his first run for public office. An anonymous flier stirred some controversy during the race, but key background on Elkarra failed to emerge.

In late 2006, California Senator Barbara Boxer gave Basim Elkarra a certificate of appreciation “in recognition of his efforts to protect civil liberties and to build bridges among diverse communities in California.” The senator quickly revoked the award, explaining that her California office had not vetted CAIR sufficiently. In “Senators for Terror,” Joe Kauffman charted CAIR’s connections to Islamic extremism, and cited evidence that, “Elkarra himself is a radical, apart from his connection to CAIR.” Elkarra had defended Lodi, California, imam Shabbir Ahmed, who urged Pakistanis to wage jihad against Americans. Another local imam, Mohammed Adil Khan, was building a madrassa to recruit children for violent acts against the United States. Elkarra described Khan, who was later deported, as “a pioneer in interfaith work.”

In 2007, Basim Elkarra refused to condemn Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist groups. He has also suggested that “Islamophobes” be prosecuted like Holocaust deniers. In April of 2000, as a member of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) at UC Berkeley, Elkarra moderated an event featuring Hamas operative Mohammad Salah, labeled a terrorist by President Clinton. Even so, Elkarra had his defenders in northern California.

“I know Elkarra,” wrote Ginger Rutland, then associate editor of the Sacramento Bee. “I don’t believe he supports terrorism.” Rutland described Elkarra as a “personable young University of California, Berkeley, graduate” who had “assumed the helm of the local CAIR chapter at a perilous time for Muslims in this country.” Senator Boxer “must understand what her casual withdrawal of a casually awarded tribute means to a Muslim American at this moment in American history. Shame on her.” But Boxer defended her actions.

“I’m just doing what I think is right,” the California Senator told reporters. Elkarra charged that Boxer had “succumbed to pressure from those who would marginalize American Muslims using smears and guilt by association.” He also claimed he received death threats after the award’s withdrawal but the FBI told Boxer’s staff that the threat was “not credible” and Elkarra maintained a high profile with CAIR. In 2010 the Muslim organization gave a $250 campaign contribution to Ami Bera, a local Democrat running for Congress against Dan Lungren. When local Republicans questioned whether the money came from a terrorist, Bera duly returned the contribution to Basim Elkarra because of questions about CAIR’s affiliations.

In February 2015, after the death of humanitarian worker Kayla Mueller in captivity of the Islamic State (ISIS), California assemblywoman Mellissa Melendez tweeted: “Gut wrenching news today. American Kayla Mueller murdered by Islamic savages. There MUST be consequences. MM .” Basim Elkarra branded the hashtag “hateful” and called on the assemblywoman to apologize. Melendez, a Republican, said she did not intend to offend peaceful Muslims. “I’ve had enough of Islamic extremists and terrorists who oppress women and burn people alive in the modern world,” the U.S. Navy veteran said in a statement. “This isn’t about hash tags, it’s about America standing up with our allies and putting an end to the barbaric behavior we are witnessing around the world.”

Elkarra offered no enlightenment on how Kayla Mueller had perished and did not extract an apology from Melendez. At the time he was eyeballing a convenient opening to public office.

In the local Twin Rivers school district, board member Cortez Quinn had resigned. Charter school official Sonja Cameron was appointed to finish his term but local Democratic Party organizations gathered signatures and forced the troubled district to hold a special election. The Sacramento Bee editorialized that Cameron “knows the district budget inside and out and offers 30-plus years of education experience” and ranked highest among the 13 candidates. Even so, the Bee endorsed Basim Elkarra of CAIR who “has led diversity and leadership training” and “with his life story, energy and connections, he could inspire students to reach higher, to go into high-tech careers they wouldn’t otherwise.” The California Teachers Association also supported the CAIR director.

In April, a mysterious flier asked “Who is Basim Elkarra?” and “Why does Basim Elkarra want to be on a school board?” A photo of Elkarra sitting beside six girls in headscarves was captioned “Basim Elkarra modeling Islamic Leadership.” Marcos Breton of the Sacramento Bee charged that Elkarra’s “ethnicity” was being used against him and described Elkarra as “a voice for inclusion.” Breton did recall that U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer had rescinded Elkarra’s award.

Local commentator Bruce Maiman suggested the flier could have been the work of the Elkarra campaign, noting that his supporters had conveniently staged a “rally against hate.” For Maiman “the election isn’t about process or race. It’s about power.” For Elkarra it was all about the kids.

“We’re trying to make it a better community and make a better future for these little ones,” he told reporters. “It doesn’t matter if they are Buddhist, Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Sikh, Muslim. We’re trying to make a better future for our children.”

On May 12, 52 percent of district voters tilted to Sonja Cameron, 69, who plans to run for the board again in 2016. So does Basim Elkarra of CAIR, with full support from the Democratic Party.[1]

Hate Crimes forum

10/10/06, more than 350 state legislators, law enforcement officials and community members attended the annual Organization of Chinese Americans of Sacramento (OCA-Sacramento) Hate Crimes Awareness and Prevention Forum held at the Alumni center at California State University, Sacramento.

The discussion panel included Sacramento Police Chief Albert Najera, CAIR-SV Executive Director Basim Elkarra and State Assembly Member Dr. Judy Chu.

"We thank OCA-Sacramento President Linda Ng for her leadership in putting together this important event," said CAIR-SV Director Basim Elkarra. "At a time when hate crimes against the Muslim community are rising, these types of events are helpful in preventing incidents before they occur."[2]

Larimore-Hall connection

Basim Elkarra, Daraka Larimore-Hall, 2013

Bera connection

Ami Bera left, right Basim Elkarra, executive director of the Sacramento chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations

CAIR - Sacramento Valley was "honored to host Congressman Ami Bera at our 12th Annual Capitol Iftar" July 1, 2015.

Ami Bera volunteers

July 2015, Glennda Campos forwarded an email from Rick Guerrero Chair, Democratic Party of Sacramento Voter Registration.

Dear River City Dems-
Here is an opportunity to be involved with other Dems & support the election of Dr Ami Bera doing voter registration. Please see the email below for needed information. It's also a chance to wear your River City T-shirt.

Let's elect Democrats to Congress,
Glennda Campos

The email went to Basim Elkarra, and others.

Leno connection

Basim Elkarra, Mark Leno, April 25th, 2016

Jarrett connection

Valerie Jarrett, Basim Elkarra, April 2016

Arab American Caucus Meeting Minutes: August 26, 2017


CA Democratic Party Summer E-board Meeting Minutes: August 26, 2017, Arab American Caucus Meeting Minutes, Sheraton Park Hotel Resort 1855 South Harbor Boulevard. Anaheim, CA.

Meeting Called to Order by Chairman Iyad Afalqa at 8:15 p.m. Officers present: Iyad Afalqa, Ahmed Zahra, Hosam Haggag, Sara Abed. Welcome Opening Remarks were delivered by Chairman Iyad Afalqa. Chairman made a motion to move the approval of minutes to the time spot after the panel to meet Congressman Khana traveling schedule. Motion was accepted and seconded by Southern California Vice Chair, Ahmed Zahra.

At 8:17 Chairman introduced North California Vice Chair Hosam Haggag to moderate The panel: Protecting Our First Amendment: A Panel Review of the Anti-BDS Bill . Along with the Anti-BDS bill and the turmoil that was sparked in Charlottesville, there's a lot of chatter about the 1st Amendment.


At 9:25 p.m. Chairman read the minutes. Amira Abed, Secretary was absent to attend to an emergent matter. Minutes were approved. At 9:28 p.m. Sara Abed, Treasurer delivered the Treasurer’s Report. At 9:30 p.m. Chairman Iyad Afalqa delivered his report followed by Vice Chair, N. Cal. Report – Hosam Haggag and Vice Chair, S. Cal. Report – Ahmad Zahra.

At 9:41 p.m. Elected Officials and Candidates Addressed the Caucus members, followed at 10:00 p.m. Guest Speakers addresses.

Rashad Al-Dabbagh, Executive Director of the Arab American Council and Monica Brasov-Curca of Activate Labs delivered a presentation about the release of the Refugees Welcome Guide. Followed by a status report on Civil rights by Basim Elkarra, Executive Director of CAIR - Sacramento Valley Meeting was adjourned at 10:15 p.m. by the chairman.[3]

Muslim Democrats

Hussam Ayloush February 25 2018:


With Sabiha Khan, Amira Abed, Zara Ahmed, Samila Amany, Masih Fouladi, Iyad Afalqa, Basim Elkarra, Hanif Mohebi, Estee Chandler and Sara Abed at California Democratic Convention 2018.

Standing for AD 7


In 2019 Basim Elkarra stood from AD 7 for the California Cemocratic Party central Committee.

I have had the honor of representing the 7th AD as a Delegate and E-Board Rep since 2010. I’ve worked since 2009 to ensure Progressive/Labor slates win throughout CA. I chair the California Democratic Party’s Affirmative Action Committee, working to increase diversity and inclusion. I work to mobilize and energize minority communities to participate in the CDP and helped raise money for Progressive Democratic candidates across the nation. I worked with minority communities to register voters throughout our region. During the general election I worked to turn out minority voters in battleground states. As a civil and immigrant rights activist and Twin Rivers Unified School District Trustee I look forward to working with my fellow Progressives to ensuring that diverse voices are heard within our Party. It will be an honor to represent you again.[4]

California Teachers Association strike supporters

Phillip Kim January 13 2018.


With Dean Murakami, Tamika L'Ecluse, Shirley Toy, Basim Elkarra, Rachelanne Vander Werf, Jillynn Molina, Robert Longer, David Mandel, Anna Molander, Ian Hoffmann, Norma Alcala, Michelle Pariset, Tim Molina and Rene Cruz Martinez at California Teachers Association.