By Hazem. I. Kira
The AMA- Southern California team
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
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
The AMA-Claremont held a fundraiser on May 22 and will hold
a town hall meeting with State Senator Liz Figueroa on July
Community activists can contact the AMA Claremont Office at
Ph: 909.626.0333, Fax: 909.626.0339, URL www.amaweb.org