NY Mayoral Candidate Promises “More of a Voice” to Muslims
By Hazem Kira

New York: As one more sign that 800, 000 Muslim New Yorkers, at least 250, 000 of whom are eligible to vote, can play an important role in the upcoming mayoral elections, the Manhattan borough president, C. Virginia Fields, told leaders of the New York Chapter of the American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections (AMT) that ”she opposes the Patriot Act” and as mayor would create a more inclusive "New York City, in which Muslims would have more of a voice.”
The American Muslim Taskforce is a coalition of 11 largest national Muslim organizations and has played a pivotal role in uniting and galvanizing the second Muslim bloc vote in 2004.
According to the New York Sun, “she told the American Muslim Taskforce that she does not support, the Patriot Act because it "violates civil rights." The AMT-NY delegation was led by its Coordinator Imam El-Hajj Talib Abdul Rashid.
"Coming out of the segregated South, I know what segregation is about. I know what racism is about," Ms. Fields, one of four Democratic candidates for mayor, said. "Discrimination, pre-9/11, post-9/11, is unacceptable. All of us have an obligation to make sure that policies are in place to make sure it doesn't happen."
Lenora Fulani, leader of the independence Party, also addressed the group. She asked the Muslim community to vote for her party so that her party could amass more political clout.
Candidates are beginning to recognize the power of the Muslim bloc vote. Although final numbers of American Muslims who actually voted in 2004 are not available at this time, preliminary studies show a rise in both absolute numbers and percentage of actual to eligible voters. It is estimated that as a result of the AMT’s mass outreach efforts many more new Muslim voters were registered to vote in 2004. According to an AMA post-election survey, 21 per cent of Muslims voting in the election 2004 were first time voters.
This data is consistent with reports published in the mainstream media quoting the University of Maryland researcher, James Gimpel, “Registration levels for individuals with Arabic names in places like San Jose, Los Angeles, Tampa and Queens increased dramatically since 9/11.” Because not all Muslims have Arabic sounding names, even Gimpel has undercounted the Muslim vote. Prof. Gimpel noted that there has been a dramatic increase in the registration number.
A breakdown of Muslim voters by age compared to national voters yields the following results:

Age Muslim Americans All Americans
18 – 29 years 26% 17%
30-44 27% 33%
45 -59 28% 28%
60 or older 11% 22%
Declined to state 8% -

The trends in the Muslim community may be significantly different than the mainstream: In the mainstream, senior citizens vote at a higher percentage than the youth, in the Muslim community it is the opposite. These comparative data indicate the need for greater outreach and work among the older immigrant Muslim voters.
A breakdown of Muslim voters by gender and age showed the following results:
Age group Male Female
18 – 29 years 43% 57%
30-44 70% 30%
45 -59 78% 22%
60 or older 77% 23%
Muslim women voters lagged behind their male counterparts by a ratio of 1 to 2. Though such a ratio is not uncommon among relatively recent immigrant communities, these data specify another area of community education work for national organizations.
The AMT seeks to change these trends by setting up special get-to-vote committees and by encouraging use of absentee ballots.

Bloc vote in state and city elections
As detailed below, in 2004 American Muslims were the most cohesive vote in the nation. According to a number of post election surveys, 93 per cent of Muslims voters voted together as a bloc in 2004 compared to 72 per cent in the 2000 presidential elections.

Muslim Vote 93%
Black Bloc Vote 89%
Evangelical Bloc Vote 78%
Jewish Bloc Vote 78%
Veterans Bloc Vote 57%
Hispanic Bloc Vote 55%
Catholic Bloc Vote 52%
The AMT has decided to apply the bloc vote at the state and city level in 2005 and 2006 elections. “It is the same principle and yields the same results”, says AMT National Chair Dr. Agha Saeed.
This year five American Muslim candidates are running for city council elections in New York. AMT-NY plans to hold town hall meeting throughout the state to get Muslim candidates to register to vote, educate them about issues and candidates, get them to interact with various candidates, build a democratic consensus, and get them out on the day of elections.
“A unified vote by 250, 000 Muslim New Yorkers will make us a respected partner in city politics,” says Imam El-Hajj Talib Abdul Rasheed, coordinator AMT-NY. “Our task is to build a democratic consensus among the quarter million eligible Muslim voters and to get them to vote on the day of election.”


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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