Washington, DC: The
American Muslim Taskforce (AMT) has called on
an estimated four million Muslim voters to give
their “qualified” support to Senator Kerry in
protest against the policies of the Bush administration.
AMT is the umbrella
organization representing ten largest Muslim groups
in the United States.
made at a packed press conference at the Washington
DC national press club, encouraged Muslim voters
to voice their opposition to the “oppressive laws”
which have caused American Muslims to be “treated
like second-class citizens”.
The AMT endorsement
has turned an expected popular vote for Kerry
into a bloc vote. “A bloc vote”, says AMT chair
Dr. Agha Saeed, “takes place when most members
of a group vote together for a common purpose
based on a negotiated understanding.” By linking
the Muslim vote to the demand for restoration
of civil liberties and human rights, the AMT statement
has galvanized the Muslim community around a unified
action agenda. It has premised the relationship
between the Kerry campaign and the Muslim voters
on respect for the Bill of Rights.
is based on partial agreements, support for Sen.
Kerry is premised on our overall effort to help
restore liberty and justice for all,” the statement
reads, implying that this is going to be a performance-based
The AMT endorsement
announced by its chair Dr. Agha Saeed has received
international press coverage. It consists of four
main parts: repudiation of the Bush administration’s
enforcement of the USA PATRIOT Act; appreciation
for Ralph Nader and his running mate Peter Camejo
for their principled stand in highlighting and
fighting denial of civil liberties to minorities;
explanation for the qualified endorsement of Sen.
John Kerry; and action advisory for the community.
It laments the fact
that the Bush administration has taken an aggressive
stance against the seven million American Muslims
since 9/11. Under The PATRIOT Act thousands of
Muslims have been detained without access to lawyers,
their homes and personal records searched without
warrants, and mosques have been brought under
surveillance, community leaders say. In addition
some Muslim males in the United States and those
visiting as students or tourists are fingerprinted
The AMT statement
also praises the friends of the Muslim community:
Ralph Nader and his running mate Peter Camejo
as well as the Green, Libertarian and Reform parties.
(All these groups have in addition formed a coalition
in California, known as the California Civil Rights
The AMT’s qualified
endorsement of Sen. Kerry comes on the heels of
high-level talks with both parties for the purpose
of placing civil liberties on the presidential
agenda. The AMT sought to gain support for the
repeal, or the modification of the USA PATRIOT
Act. A total of 358 cities, counties plus four
states have voiced their opposition to unconstitutional
laws embodied in the said act. The Kerry campaign,
and its co-chair Sen. Edward Kennedy in particular,
have acknowledged the merit of AMT’s position,
but Kerry has yet to commit himself to specific
The AMT has argued
that “our vote is the best guarantee of our civil
rights and the best expression of our citizenship.”
Under this banner it has taken a firm stance demanding
the Kerry campaign’s public commitment to prohibit
use of ex post facto laws, and secret evidence
and secret trials.
The press conference,
attended by major news organizations, including
the New York Times and the Washington Post, was
addressed by Agha Saeed, Nihad Awad, Hadia Mubarak,
and Imam Johari Abdul-Malik.