Potential Muslim Vote Gets International Coverage
By Tahir Ali
MassachusettsCNC News - October 13, 2008: In the 14th national convention for the American Muslim Alliance Congressman Jim McGovern was confident that the upcoming election would bring about the paradigm shift needed to make America a more welcoming place for the Muslim population. "For the first time in a long time, I am hopeful," he said. "This is an opportunity to change things for the better."
AMA/AMT’s efforts under the fine and innovative leadership of Dr. Agha Saeed may just prove McGovern’s words to be true. Here is a brief summary of how the Muslim vote in the 2008 US elections is being covered nationally and internationally. Full text of report on Page 17.
Veteran journalist Khalid Hasan was the one who initiated the latest round: His dispatch to Daily Times in Pakistan on 10/28 comprised of several “insider” observation. Hasan wrote:
Ninety percent of US Muslims voting for Obama
WASHINGTON: About 90 percent of American Muslims are expected to vote for Barack Obama on November 4, according to a key Muslim community leader, who wished to remain anonymous since any open or overt expression of support from a Muslim group for Obama is likely to hurt rather than help his bid for the White House. Leading Muslim organizations and groups have been requested by Obama’s people not to declare their support to the Democratic candidate openly as they fear it will be used to decry the senator as a ‘crypto Muslim’ or ‘jihahidi manqué,’ so much paranoia about Islam and Muslims has been spread by neocon supporters of John McCain and certain radical, ultra conservative church and evangelical groups. According to Agha Saeed of the American Muslim Taskforce on Universal Rights and Elections, “Our goal is to maximize Muslim voter turnout, support candidates who support civil liberties, world peace, universal healthcare, better education, a fair immigration policy and social justice. Even if better candidates were to win on November 4, it will take a long and determined effort to help restore America’s promise, ideals and principles.” The American Muslim Taskforce is planning to release a Muslim-American voter survey in the next few days. Khalid Hasan
A charmed echo of Khalid Hasan’s piece was heard in the Daily Times editorial of 10/29, titled “American Muslims and Obama” – reproduced below:
According to an American survey, about 90 percent of American Muslims are expected to vote for Barack Obama on November 4. But strangely the Muslim organization that carried out this survey doesn’t want the fact publicized widely because “it might hurt rather than help Mr Obama’s bid for the White House”. This is because a part of America thinks that Mr Obama is a Muslim — which he is not — and may favor policies that might make America vulnerable to Muslim terrorism. But a majority of the population clearly wants a changeover from the “neo-con” model of governance that has hurt the national economy. Even the Republicans want to make this change. But fear of terrorism reigns in the American mind and that might hurt Mr Obama.
The American Muslims have adopted the right stance. According to Dr Agha Saeed of the American Muslim Taskforce on Universal Rights and Elections, “Our goal is to maximize Muslim voter turnout, support candidates who support civil liberties, world peace, universal healthcare, better education, a fair immigration policy and social justice”. That is how most Americans think and that is not specific to Muslims. There are old policies to revamp and new ones to adopt and Mr Obama promises to do that for the American nation. Those who think that he would sacrifice any American interests at the global level are completely mistaken.
On the same day, newspaper DAWN carried a news item about “Muslims eager to make a difference in US polls”.
WASHINGTON / NEW YORK, Oct 28: “Get out and vote on Nov 4,” says a one-minute televised message by a Muslim umbrella organization, the American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections.
The message reminded American Muslims that they “can make a difference in this upcoming election, especially in battleground states”.
The message does not say whether Muslims should vote for Mr Obama or Mr McCain. It just urges them to exercise their right to elect the next US president.
“We encourage Muslim voters to vote for candidates who support issues on civil liberties and human rights, reviving the economy, world peace, the environment, education, universal healthcare, and who can build a national consensus on an immigration policy in the 21st century,” the message adds.
“Each election cycle America’s Muslims become better organized and more savvy about asserting our voice into our nation’s electoral dialogue...”
On 10/30 a report titled “On ballots this Nov: More Muslim American women” by the Associated Press’s Rasha Madkour.
MIAMI: Many things have changed for Muslim Americans in the seven years since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks: Interrogations from FBI and immigration officials. Additional screenings from airport security. The feeling of being targeted by the contentious Patriot Act.
And then there's this: More Muslims, particularly women, are running for political office, spurred by the perceived erosions of their civil liberties.
The soul searching that followed 9/11 prompted more woman to step into leadership roles, a trend encouraged by the community, said Agha Saeed, founder of the American Muslim Alliance, which has been tracking Muslim candidates since 1996. Before Sept. 11, less than 5 percent were women, Saeed said. Now about one in three are.
Pakistan’s TV channels have been doing their part as well. Maria Ahmad, GEO’s journalist-at-large showed up at AMT’s meeting in Detroit Michigan to interview Mitchell Shamsuddin and Assemblywoman Jamila Nasheed. Maria Ahmed who is now in Arizona and plans to visit California as well.
PTV’s anchorperson Israr Kasana has recently interviewed a number of activists associated with AMT, especially with AMT’s coordinator Tanweer Janjua, who has organized five town hall meetings/rallies in Minnesota in the last two weeks.
Pakistan Link was the first to highlight the voter activity by printing Hazem Kira's report on its front page: "AMT seeks Historical Election Day Voter Turnout"
Finally, Hazem Kira’s aptly written piece “Pumping Up Muslim Voter Turnout” originally published by New America Media was picked up by several media entities, including the USA –TODAY, Guardian, and Afghan Sun to name only a few.