AMT Presents 2006 Election Strategy at ISNA Convention
By Hazem Kira

 


AMT BOARD MEMBERS [L to R]: Imam El-Hajj Talib Abdur Rasheed, Imam Mehdi Bray, Dr. Ahmed Al-Akras and Dr. Agha Saeed

Rosemont Convention Center: The American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections (AMT), a national coalition of major American Muslim organization, presented a unified election agenda for 2006. AMT Chair, Dr. Agha Saeed, along with Imam Medhi Bray and Corey Saylor presented the following action plan to the audience for their input, deliberation and action.
AMT Election Plan
The AMT Election Plan consists of seven key elements: 1) objectives, 2) issues, 3) strategy, 4) community education and mobilization, 5) criteria-based feedback from the community, 6) community-based decision-making process, and 7) tasks for individuals and organizations during Sept-Nov. 2006.
Objectives
Our four main objectives are to: 1) become full partners in the defense, development and prosperity of our homeland, the United States, 2) defend civil and human rights of all, 3) mainstream the American Muslim community, and 4) develop alliances with like-minded fellow Americans on a wide variety of social, political, economic and moral issues.
Issues
Election efforts will focus on a "Civil Rights Plus" agenda. By this we mean that ‘the civil rights for all’ is the main issue but not the only issue. We remain equally committed to education, homelessness, economic recovery, environmental and ecological safety, electoral reform, crime, and global peace and justice. Our ‘civil rights plus agenda’ is broadly organized under three categories: a) civil and human rights, b) domestic issues of public good and general welfare, c) global peace with justice, prevention of war, and US relations with the Muslim world.
Strategy
Our overall strategy is premised on the belief that “Our vote is the best guarantee of our civil rights and the best expression of our citizenship”. The AMT will organize strategic mobilization of the American Muslim voters at local, state and federal levels, with primary focus on key states and key races.
Voter Registration and Voter Education Viewing elections as an opportunity for both self-empowerment and direct participation in discussions about all issues including America’s sense of direction and destiny, the AMT shall expend its maximum energy in educating, organizing and mobilizing the American Muslim voters.
Criteria-based feedback from the community
The AMT has set up a system to get the American Muslim voters to provide feedback about candidates on the basis of the following criteria:
1. Position on Civil Rights and other key issues detailed above
2. Performance Record
3. Inclusiveness
Community-based Decision Making Process
1. Community input - Each participating organization will be obliged to make a good faith effort to reach out to its own members to ensure their participation in the decision making process. Organizations will be free to seek such participation and policy input through opinion polls, questionnaires, community forums, town hall meetings, e-groups and other similar means. Each organization shall make a good faith effort to enable each of its members to have an equal say in the decision making process.
2. Organizational input - The Taskforce shall make good faith effort to ensure that each member organization will receive equal consideration during the decision-making process.
3. AMT Questionnaire for Federal Candidates: The AMT will send a questionnaire to all presidential candidates to ascertain their position on issues of importance to Muslim Americans. The AMT will also ask each candidate for an exclusive meeting.
4. Candidate Research and Scorecard: In addition to the above questionnaire the AMT shall research presidential candidates and issue a scorecard to enable community members to make informed judgments about various candidates.
Tasks for individuals and organizations
We ask all community members and organizations to fulfill their obligations as informed voters and responsible citizens during this election year. Here is a list of tasks that your may want to perform individually and / or collectively:
1. Register to vote
2. Work in an election campaign of your choice – inform the campaign about your community’s concerns; inform the community about the campaign.
Attend town hall meetings — engage the candidate in a meaningful discussion of the Civil Rights Plus Agenda.
5.Set up a civic education program to educate your community about the American Political System.
6. Organize a candidates’ forum and enable your community to have a direct dialogue with the candidate. (Identify and engage at least one elected official in issue of concern to yourself and your community.)
7. Organize absentee ballots for the least likely-to-vote sections of the community.
8. Research and compare candidates from your district and issue scorecards for the convenience of your community.
9. Organize a get-out-to-vote team in your district/neighborhood.
10. Inform community members of important meetings and events.
11. Build local coalitions with like-minded individuals and organizations to promote the ‘Civil Rights Plus Agenda’.
12. Maintain effective and visible presence in all local forums.
The American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections (AMT), includes: American Muslim Alliance (AMA), Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), Muslim Alliance of North America (MANA), Muslim American Society (MAS), Muslim Student Association – National (MSA-N), Muslim Ummah of North America [MUNA], Project Islamic Hope (PIH), and United Muslims of America (UMA).

 

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