AMT Engages ISNA Delegates
in Planning for 2008 US Election
By Muhammad Salim Akhtar
GTV NEWS SERVICE
Illinois: Every year roughly 30,000 delegates come from all
corners of the United States to attend the annual convention
of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA).
Historically, these conventions have played an important role
in the development of the American Muslim political agenda
and action plan. In his book Silent No More: Confronting America’s
False Images of Islam, former Congressman and best-selling
author Paul Findley writes:
“The most dramatic step toward nationwide Muslim unity
occurred during the annual Labor Day Convention of the Islamic
Society of North America (ISNA) held near Chicago 's O’Hare
airport. At the end of the remarks to an audience of more
than ten thousand Muslims, Agha Saeed announced that AMPCC
had decided to put aside all other campaign issues and recommend
bloc voting by Muslims in the presidential elections. He said
the council, after interviewing the principal candidates,
would announce its recommendations for the presidency two
weeks before the voting….
“Saeed brought the audience to its feet by declaring,
'We are not fighting. We are united. And two weeks before
the election, we will make up our collective mind, and issue
and advisory for the presidential candidates.'
Since 2003, the American Muslim Political Coordination Council
(AMPCC) has been expended and renamed the American Muslim
Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections (AMT).
Today, the AMT represents the largest American Muslim organizations
which include 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 Ummah of North America (MUNA),
Muslim American Society (MAS), Muslim Student Association
– National (MSA-N), Project Islamic Hope (PIH), and
United Muslims of America (UMA).
Like previous years, this year too the AMT engaged ISNA delegates
about US elections in 2008.
AMT’s overall agenda was articulated by the AMT Chair
Dr. Agha Saeed. The American Muslim community, he said, needs
to accomplish four important tasks: build an internal consensus
of issues, goals and strategies pertaining to the 2008 elections,
build coalitions with like-minded fellow Americans, work in
campaigns, and create an effective Muslim voter presence in
key states, especially in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Explaining the over AMT objectives, Dr. Ahmed Al-Akhras, vice-chair
of Council on American-Relations (CAIR), said: “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.”
“Our election efforts,” Imam Mehdi Bary, Executive
Director, MAS Freedom-Foundation, said “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, he said.
Eric Irfan Vickers, Director of American Muslim Alliance (AMA),
spoke about the American Muslim strategy. He said, “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.”
Delegates inspired by these deliberations offered to host
AMT Town Hall meetings in their respective cities in the months
leading up to US general elections in November 2008. The next
four town hall meetings will be in Ann Arbor, Michigan , Columbia
, Missouri , Chicago , Illinois , and Tampa , Florida.