Executive Director Nasir Zakaria for receiving the Leaders for a New Chicago Award.

This morning, State Representative Kevin Olickaland I presented a Joint Proclamation to the Rohingya Culture Center Founder and Executive Director Nasir Zakaria for receiving the Leaders for a New Chicago Award. This award is given to 10 individuals in Chicago who are advancing the racial and social justice movement in Chicago. Rep. Olickal and I have had the honor of working alongside Nasir and the rest of the team at the RCC to serve the needs of the Rohingyan community and have seen his impact firsthand.

Congratulations Nasir, and thank you for your service to our community!

Meet Our 2023 Health & Medicine Award Winners

Health & Medicine is pleased to announce our 2023 award winners! These Chicago-area leaders exemplify the Health & Medicine mission to build power and momentum for social justice and health equity in Illinois.

Help us celebrate the public health champions in our community! Join us for our 2023 Health & Medicine Awards Gala on September 20 as we recognize these public health leaders.

Health Award

Nasir Zakaria, Rohingya Culture Center

Nasir Zakaria is a Rohingya refugee who fled from Burma to Bangladesh at the age of 14. In 2013, after traveling to Thailand and Malaysia, he resettled in Chicago with his wife, daughter, and grandfather. While learning English, Nasir got a job as a dishwasher at the Rivers Casino. He saw the need for a place for the Rohingya population to gather and receive services as there were no Rohingya people in Chicago before refugees began arriving in 2010. In 2016, he founded the Rohingya Culture Center, with help from the Zakat Foundation of America, to support his community, splitting his time between his dishwashing job and the Center. Nasir remains Executive Director for the Center, which has become not only a place for programs serving Rohingya and other refugees but a place that offers community-building activities.  

Nasir is a community leader for the Rohingya population and is known nationally and internationally throughout the Rohingya community for establishing the first-of-its-kind Rohingya Culture Center. He is highly respected for his integrity and dedication, always putting the needs of others before his own. He has a deep understanding of the culture and traditions of his people and uses this knowledge to create meaningful initiatives that strengthen the community. Nasir is a proud Rohingya American who is thankful to be welcomed into the United States and uses this opportunity to help others.

Rohingya sue Facebook for £150bn over Myanmar genocide

Facebook’s negligence facilitated the genocide of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar after the social media network’s algorithms amplified hate speech and the platform failed to take down inflammatory posts, according to legal action launched in the US and the UK.

The platform faces compensation claims worth more than £150bn under the coordinated move on both sides of the Atlantic.

Rashid Ahmed’s Family Fled Persecution In Myanmar. Now, He Is Chicago’s First Rohingya Refugee To Graduate College

WEST RIDGE — Rashid Ahmed started working with computers when he was just 7 and his dad brought home a used, $20 device.

The computer barely worked, but Ahmed tinkered with the pieces and eventually managed to completely fix it on his own. He hasn’t stopped tinkering with computers since — and his interest has only deepened since he moved to Chicago as a Rohingya refugee. Despite the hardships his family have faced, he’s found success and plans to build a career in computers.

The 22-year-old graduated with honors from Harold Washington College with an associate’s degree in science in June 2020, then received a certificate in computer information systems from Wilbur Wright College in December.

Rohingya Diaspora in the U.S.

How does the trauma of persecution continue to affect the mental health of the Rohingya population in the United States? Imran Mohammad Fazal Hoque explores the journey of the Rohingya diaspora in the U.S., investigating the emotional complexity of new lives.

The Rohingya are newcomers to western society, and many have settled in Chicago, Milwaukee, Indiana, and Texas. The Rohingya people have suffered significantly from decades of systemic persecution by their country’s military. They are the Indigenous people of Arakan State in Myanmar, formerly called Burma, a country that has been ruled by a military junta since its independence.

Rohingya refugees sue Facebook for $150B

Rohingya refugees from Myanmar are suing Facebook for $150 billion over allegations that the platform failed to act against anti-Rohingya hate speech that fueled real-world violence against the group in the region, according to a complaint filed Monday.

Refugees in the U.S. filed the case in California superior court, and Rohingya refugees in Europe filed a similar case in the U.K.

Hopeful Rogers Park Rohingya Vote in First Presidential Election

The journey from refugee to registered voter isn’t always an easy one. But this past October, more than a dozen Rohingya-Americans completed it when they cast their ballots for the first time in the 2020 U.S. general election.

Those Rohingya refugees took a van to vote at the Warren Park Field House, located in West Rogers Park Oct. 20.

Rohingya American voters ‘grateful,’ ‘excited’ to cast ballots for the first time in Chicago

CHICAGO (RNS) — About a dozen Rohingya refugees voted for the first time Tuesday (Oct. 20) at an early voting site in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood.

It wasn’t just the first time they voted as United States citizens. It was the first time they’d ever voted, period.

Rohingya Americans in Chicago venture out to local polling place en masse to cast their first-ever general election votes: ‘Really I’m so grateful’

In the seven years he’s lived in America, Nasir Zakaria has hardly felt as grateful as he did Tuesday waiting at the Warren Park polling site in Rogers Park to cast his first-ever vote in his lifetime, he said.

“Really I’m so grateful for country of United States,” Zakaria, a Rohingya American, said. “I’m so grateful for people of United States for supporting (us). I’m so grateful for government of United States.”