AMT Engages ISNA Delegates in Planning for 2008 US Election
By Muhammad Salim Akhtar
GTV NEWS SERVICE

Chicago, 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.



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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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