Published by Religion News Service, Deseret News December 11, 2015

After 9/11, Kathy Masaoka heard a Muslim woman on the radio describe her hesitancy to go to the market for fear of being attacked.

“It crystalized for me at that moment, that this must be how my parents felt and how my family felt after Pearl Harbor,” she said.

Masaoka’s family is Japanese American. As a young man during World War II, her father was drafted into the Military Intelligence Service while his parents and siblings were sent to California’s Manzanar internment camp in the desert east of the Sierra Nevada. They lost their family business in Los Angeles.

Masaoka is co-chair of Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress in Los Angeles, which helped win a presidential apology and $20,000 per person for more than 80,000 survivors of internment in 1988. The experience taught Japanese Americans the benefits of partnering with other communities.

“We couldn’t win redress without reaching out to others,” Masaoka said.

In the wake of the San Bernardino, Calif., and Paris terrorist attacks, leaders of the NCRR and other Japanese-American organizations reached out to Muslims groups offering their help. They are among a raft of grass-roots organizations that have shown solidarity with American Muslims.

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Photo Caption: Traci Ishigo of the Japanese American Citizens League Pacific Southwest District and Sahar Pirzada of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Los Angeles lead a vigil in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo neighborhood.

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