Early life and education
Awad was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan and raised in Marietta, Georgia. He matriculated at Georgia Southern University, but transferred to the University of Georgia (UGA) after his first year. He earned a law degree from UGA in 2009.
In October 2010 Awad was named executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) branch in Oklahoma. Immediately after his appointment, 70% of Oklahoma voters cast ballots in favor of a ban on sharia law known as "State Question 755", which was to be added to the Constitution of Oklahoma. Awad and CAIR filed suit against the Oklahoma State Election Board, then chaired by Paul Zirlax, on November 4, 2010 with Awad as plaintiff, aiming to block the amendment on the grounds that it would make Oklahoma's constitution a vehicle for "an enduring condemnation" of Islam.
Awad won an initial victory in "Awad v. Zirlax" when federal judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange of the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma issued a restraining order barring the amendment from taking effect. Two days after Miles-LaGrange's order, Awad appeared on the Rachel Maddow Show to discuss his suit, stating that "we already have an amendment that makes sure Sharia law will never take over our courts. It also makes sure that no law will take over - no religious law will take over our courts and it's called the First Amendment."
Miles-LaGrange extended her stay on November 22, 2010 to allow herself time to consider Awad's suit and a week later stayed the amendment indefinitely pending her final decision. Awad won his suit when Miles-LaGrange left her injunction in place, although the state of Oklahoma appealed her decision in December 2010. Miles-LaGrange's decision was upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in January 2012 and she issued an order permanently enjoining the amendment in August 2013.
In 2012 Awad was named a fellow of the American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute at the University of Southern California. In July 2012 he resigned as executive director of the Oklahoma chapter of CAIR, and later that year he was named executive director of the New York City chapter. As NYC director of CAIR, Awad worked actively to counter Pamela Geller's New York City anti-Islamist organization Stop Islamization of America's various subway ad campaigns, calling on the New York City government to "take on a leadership role in denouncing hate speech." In 2014 Awad was recognized with the Hugh Hefner First Amendment Award at a ceremony in Washington D.C.
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- Beth Hatcher (October 12, 2003). "Athens mosque open house shares faith - In person: Presenting the message of Islam". Athens Banner-Herald.
- Rebecca K. Quigley (March 6, 2006). "UGA students get back to their roots - College environment encourages young people to explore, share their heritage". Athens Banner-Herald.
- Marie Price (August 16, 2013). "Court: Law so clearly targeted at Muslim Sharia law it cannot survive legal challenge in Okla". Journal Record Legislative Report.(subscription required)
- "Suit filed against ban on Islamic law in Oklahoma". The Augusta Chronicle. November 5, 2010. p. A10.
- Tim Talley (November 8, 2010). "Court order blocks Okla. amendment on Islamic law". Associated Press.
- Cyra Akila Choudhury (2013). "Shari'ah Law as National Security Threat". Akron Law Review. 46. note 33 (subscription required)
- Rachel Maddow (November 10, 2010). "The Rachel Maddow Show for November 10 2010". The Rachel Maddow Show. MSNBC.
- "Stay extended on Oklahoma anti-Sharia measure: court". Agence France-Presse. November 22, 2010.
- "Judge blocks anti-Sharia measure in Oklahoma". Agence France-Presse. November 29, 2010.
- Marie Price (September 12, 2011). "Federal judges hear appeal of decision halting enforcement of Oklahoma law banning consideration of Sharia law by state courts". Journal Record Legislative Report.
- Erik Eckholm (January 10, 2012). "Oklahoma: Court Upholds Blocking of Amendment Against Shariah Law". New York Times. Retrieved March 1, 2014.
- "Cameron to observe Constitution Day Monday". The Lawton Constitution. September 12, 2012.
- Bill Sherman (July 28, 2012). "CAIR's Oklahoma chapter expands staff to 4". Tulsa World.(subscription required)
- "Anti jihad ads going up in NY City subway". The New Zealand Herald. September 21, 2012.(subscription required)
- "Greenwald Accepts Hugh Hefner Award". US News & World Report. Retrieved 2016-05-06.