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Washington County woman to attend State of the Union address

Salma Ahmad is president of Islamic Society of Greater Portland, based in Beaverton, and serves on board for Tigard's Muslim Educational Trust.


TIMES PHOTO: ADAM WHICKAM - Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-Beaverton) attends the grand opening of the Muslim Educational Trust in Tigard in December. The Congresswoman has selected Salma Ahmad, president of the Islamic Society of Greater Portland, as her guest for next week's State of the Union address in Washington, D.C.A Washington County woman will head to Washington, D.C. next week to attend President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address.

Josefina Salma Ahmad, president of the Islamic Society of Greater Portland, will attend the speech as the guest of Oregon Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici, the representative’s office confirmed Friday.

The President’s State of the Union address is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 12 at 6 p.m., local time.

AhmadAhmad, who lives in Cedar Mill, is a member of the Board of Directors for the Muslim Educational Trust, based in Tigard. She has been president of The Islamic Society of Greater Portland since 2003. Based in Beaverton, the group is the oldest official Muslim organization in Oregon. The Islamic Society works to promote understanding among Muslims and non-Muslims.

Ahmad moved to the United States from The Philippines in 1967.

“Since I came to this country 49 years ago, the United States — my adopted country — has given me everything a human being aspires for,” Ahmad said in a prepared statement. “Thank you America for adopting me and providing every American protection and assurance of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness and, may I add, peace. It is an honor to be invited to attend the State of the Union with Congresswoman Bonamici. Never in my dreams did I think I would have the chance to hear directly from President Obama.”

Bonamici, a democrat representing Oregon's 1st Congressional District, said she invited Ahmad as her guest because of her dedication to interfaith work and strive to bring people of all faiths closer together.

“I’m honored to have Salma as my guest because of her exemplary work to promote understanding of the Muslim faith in Oregon, and her many contributions as a Muslim American to the broader community,” Bonamici said.

After recent mass-shootings in in Paris and California, Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump has called for a ban on Muslims entering the country. Bonamici and others spoke against the proposal during the Muslim Educational Trust’s grand opening of the new Muslim community center on Southwest Scholls Ferry Road.

Bonamici said she hopes that Ahmad’s presence at the State of the Union sends the message that Oregonians will stand together.

“Freedom of religion is one of the fundamental principles of our great country,” Bonamici said. “It has been disturbing to see offensive rhetoric fuel hatred and divisiveness around Oregon and the nation. Equally disturbing are the reports of violence against Muslim Americans and their places of worship. During this year’s State of the Union address, I hope the President will affirm that all Americans have the freedom to worship as they choose, and inspire us to build bridges that transcend our differences."

Ahmad was awarded the Community Leadership Award by the Portland Division of the FBI in 2009 for her work to strengthen relations between law enforcement and the Muslim community.

Ahmad serves on the board of the Human Rights Council of Washington County and the advisory board of the World Affairs Council of Oregon.