Clarion Launches First Amendment Essay Contest

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on whatsapp
Share on email

Since the election of President Trump, the national conversation about Islam, integration, terrorism and anti-Muslim bigotry has reached a fever pitch. How to safeguard free speech without inadvertently creating a safe space for hate preachers of all stripes to spread their narratives has become a critical issue.

How America resolves this question will determine its ability to prevent social friction, move forward from the mistakes of the past and promote integration and healing.

But there is a lot of confusion about the best approach.

As part of our goal to promote diversity and inclusion while standing up against radicalism, Clarion Project is launching our First Amendment Essay Prize.

The prize aims to encourage open dialogue on this vital issue. The winner will be awarded $300.


Meet Our Judges

Clarion is proud to be working with three incredible activists who have agreed to judge this competition. Our three judges are all practicing Muslims with wide ranging views and a track record of service to their community.


Anila Ali is the founder of the American Muslim Women’s Empowerment Council, the only Muslim women’s organization that works on the ground with law enforcement and interfaith leaders to counter radicalization. She founded the Irvine Pakistani Parents Association (IPPA), which raises money for the public schools and promotes South Asian peace through the arts. She is also OC chair of the International Leadership Foundation, which fosters the leadership of Asian American youth.

Ali received President Obama’s Volunteer Service Award in 2011.

Learn more about Anila Ali on her website.


Soraya Deen is a lawyer and interfaith consultant. She founded the Muslim Women’s Speakers Bureau, which seeks to promote the voices of Muslim women as leaders within their communities. She is a fellow and on the faculty of the Omnia Institute for Contextual Leadership, working directly with communities and women impacted by violent extremism. Deen led the first Women’s Leadership Conference to Counter Violent Extremism and Radicalization in North East Nigeria.

She is also the author of Peace Matters – Raising Peace Conscious Children and founded Peacemoms, a Christian-Muslim peace building movement.

Learn more about Soraya Deen on her website.


Shireen Qudosi is an American writer and speaker. Her work has been featured in The Federalist, On Being, Women in the World, The Middle East Forum and more. In 2016, she testified before the House Homeland Security Committee Hearing on radical Islam, offering a powerful voice that tied the current crisis to Islam’s origin story.

As a former refugee raised across three continents, she has a unique perspective of the issues facing the U.S. and the global Muslim community. Shireen was named one of the top 10 North American Muslim Reformers by journalist Christine Williams. 

Learn more about Shireen Qudosi on her website.



  • The prize is open to all
  • Submit essays by midnight May16
  • Word limit 1,000


  • Style (writing, flow, language)
  • Structure (logical and coherent)
  • Creativity (original and engaging)


Please send your submissions to [email protected] with “First Amendment Prize” in your subject line.

The First Amendment Essay Prize is co-sponsored by A Taste for Israel.


Subscribe to our newsletter

By entering your email, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Be ahead of the curve and get Clarion Project's news and opinion straight to your inbox