Madison's Masood Akhtar received the prestigious National 2018 Director’s Community Leadership Award from FBI Director Christopher Wray on May 3 in Washington D.C.

Madisonian Masood Akhtar, the founder of “We Are Many United Against Hate Movement,” was honored with the prestigious National 2018 Director’s Community Leadership Award, which was presented by FBI Director Christopher Wray on Friday, May 3, at the FBI Headquarters in Washington, DC.

“It was amazing. Quite an honor,” Akhtar tells Madison365. “The auditorium was fully packed with FBI staff, award recipients and their guests. When award recipients walked into the room, there was a standing ovation and that is when I cried and got emotional remembering my Indian parents. I wished there were there in the auditorium with the rest of my family members seeing me receiving this prestigious national award. While my parents are no longer alive, I will never forget their sacrifices that made me a person who I am today – a Muslim activist and an entrepreneur.”

The award recognizes the work of Akhtar’s We Are Many United Against Hate Movement, an organization that is dedicated to building an inclusive community of people, regardless of their national origin, color, religion or even political affiliation.

”It was overwhelming. It was very emotional receiving the award,”  Akhtar says. “Listening to the diverse Americans that were there and learning about what they were doing in their respective communities was so fascinating. That was real America. The diversity of award recipients from across the country in that auditorium also showed what makes America great.”         

Of the 57 award recipients from around the country, eight were Muslims, including Akhtar.

Recipients of the 2018 Director’s Community Leadership Awards, pictured with Director Christopher Wray, were honored in a ceremony at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C., on May 3.
(Photo courtesy of the FBI)

“If you think about that, this is a big number knowing that the Muslim population in the U.S. is only 1 percent,” Akhtar says.  “Like others, these Muslims were recognized for their outstanding work they are doing in their respective communities where they live in.  I hope this recognition by FBI sends a very positive message to all US citizens that Muslims are just like you – your good neighbor; your good friend, and your good co-worker.”

Akhtar says that he recognizes how many people from different countries like himself have different views of law enforcement.

“In many countries, citizens quite often when they see a law enforcement officer, they are told to run as fast as you can.  When these people come to the U.S., they bring that culture with them and are still afraid of law enforcement officers in this country. My advice to them is that they shouldn’t be afraid,” Akhtar says. “Law enforcement officers are here to protect us all, regardless of our religion, color, ethnicity or political affiliation. I am confident that the recognition of contributions of our diverse communities from around the country by FBI during this ceremony alone will give them some level of comfort making it easier for them to interact with law enforcement officers in the future.”

Akhtar says he wanted to recognize the board members and volunteers of “We Are Many United Against Hate Movement,” a non-partisan, non-profit, state-wide organization of common people who are urban and rural, spiritual and secular, seeking equal protection for all, united against hate, bigotry and racism.

“There are many Muslims who are making positive contributions to their communities across the United States,” Akhtar says. “I’m hoping that this recognition will send a very positive message to all U.S. citizens that Muslims are just like you. I hope we can continue to work together to build inclusive communities all over the country.”