AMA-Southern California Office Inaugurated
By Hazem. I. Kira

The AMA- Southern California team

Claremont, California: The Claremont chapter of the American Muslim Alliance (AMA), a national civic education organization, recently inaugurated a new office in Southern California. This comes at the heels of a major office being opened in New York just a few weeks ago. The AMA is also planning to open a DC office later this year.
The Executive Council of this chapter consists of Imad Attoura (President), Dr. Zaher Azzawi (Vice President), Bashir El Kabti (Secretary), and Talal Hawa (Treasurer)
The AMA Claremont Office will help coordinate activities in Southern California and it is tasked with setting up a major precinct-by-precinct GET-OUT-TO-VOTE community outreach, and mobilization network. Mobilizing the over one million Muslims in California, of which a sizeable number live in Southern California, could make the Muslim community a significant electoral force in the upcoming elections.
The Claremont chapter was inaugurated a few months ago and it is the 100th AMA chapter. The new office is located at 3628 Lynok Drive, in Claremont, California.
Mr. Aleemuddin Qureshi, who holds advanced degrees in Economics and Law, will be running this office. “It is important,” he said, for our community to have strong voice, and while the division of labor for different organizations may vary, the underline objective is the same - to mainstream the Muslim community.” Mr. Qureshi said he looks forward to working through the AMA to provide much needed civic education and leadership training to the American Muslim community.
He will be responsible for a number of activities which include ensuring regular two-way communication with the AMA members, the Muslim community and the mainstream press; writing regular event reports for the media, issuing press releases; publishing a quarterly e-newsletter; organizing civic education and leadership training programs in the tri-state area; organizing and conducting monthly, quarterly, special and annual meetings; and setting up a city/statewide election machine.

Working under the direction of Dr. Azzawi, Mr. Qureshi will represent AMA-Claremont at various community meetings and mainstream meetings and conferences.
Commenting on the appointment, Dr. Zaher Azzawi, President of the AMA, Claremont, mentioned that the Mr. Qureshi’s addition would serve to more formally establish the effort to mobilize the community in political issues.
“We owe it to our community”, said Dr. Azzawi, “to get involved, represent and protect our community. We must show who we truly are and become active citizens in the society we live in. It is in this effort, that we can solve the problems our community faces.”
Active citizenship can be expressed in many forms, including public service, social involvement, and governance. Elections, for example provide opportunities for influencing electoral agenda, building skills and coalitions, as well as negotiate on behalf of all community members.
According to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, 93 percent of American Muslims voted as a bloc for Democratic candidate Sen. John Kerry. American Muslim were the most cohesive voting bloc in 2004 general election in the United States. .
According to the above article, 21 percent of American Muslims voting in the 2004 election were first-time voters. This highest-ever Muslim vote was, among other things, the result of a “year-long drive to mobilize the community through town hall meetings, conventions, and voter education workshops across the 50 states.”
The AMA wants to help repeat and enhance this democratically achieved cohesion in 2008 and 2012. The AMA chapters nationwide have been recognized for their contributions in creating the forums necessary for disseminating this vital civic education.
For over ten years, the AMA has been dedicated to educating, organizing and mobilizing American Muslims in the political process. During the 2004 presidential election, the AMA-National had conducted forty-plus town hall meetings nationwide, including seven in New York and five in California.
These meetings are primarily designed to provide civic education and to help build citizen efficacy through skills acquisition and capacity formation as well as to seek direct input from community members and activists for policy decision regarding the overall American Muslim goals and strategies.
Next year the AMA- Claremont office will focus on getting Muslim Californians to run for public office. At the same time it will help the Muslim community in getting registered to vote, meeting and negotiating with candidates, volunteering for various political campaigns, and organizing get-out-to-vote campaigns.
The AMA-Claremont held a fundraiser on May 22 and will hold a town hall meeting with State Senator Liz Figueroa on July 30.
Community activists can contact the AMA Claremont Office at Ph: 909.626.0333, Fax: 909.626.0339, URL www.amaweb.org

 

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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