February’s Community Spotlight focuses on Ibrahim Hamide, a human rights activist and owner of Café Soriah. Ib came to Eugene in 1969 to study marketing and psychology at UO. He stayed because, as he says often, “I love Eugene and the people of this state.” From the beginning, he noticed, “People smiled at me.”
Ib is a native Palestinian raised in Bethlehem. Like many students, he worked his way through college in the restaurant business. Eventually, he opened his own restaurants, because he missed the food of his homeland. He believes that food is a great bridge over cultural divides. “It is the centerpiece of social events.”
As he set down roots in Eugene, Ib saw opportunities to contribute to the fabric of the community by drawing on his experiences as an immigrant. His participation in interfaith conversations increased after 9/11, and since then he has participated in the related services on the 11th of each month. He has helped train local law enforcement officers and judges in Washington State on cultural competency with respect to Muslims and Arabs. Last year he was honored by the Nobel Peace Laureate Project as an “Inspirer of Peace” for his work to “peacefully educate” the Eugene community. He is an active member of the Eugene Human Rights Commission and past president of the Eugene Middle East Peace Group.