AMT: Elections 2010 and beyond
By Tahir Ali
Glimpses of the American Muslims Task Force Town Hall Meeting
Shrewsbury MA : The Restaurant was half empty.
I looked at the audience and was expressively disheartened. Most of the speakers had arrived. They included Honorable Saghir Tahir, State Representative of New Hampshire; Activists Farooq Ansari and Atif Harden; Dr. Agha Saeed, AMT Chairman from California; and Honorable Jamie Eldridge, Massachusetts State Senator.
I surrendered to the fact that it was Sunday Football night, and there was a Muslim wedding taking place at moment, so in retrospect it wasn't such a bad turnout.
The Restaurant was half full.
This was the venue for the American Muslim Task (AMT) Force Town Hall Meeting event - to mainly discuss what the issues were and how to transfer these issues into golden strengths. To do this three ways were obvious: 1) Oppose your opponent, 2) Support your friends, 3) Win over fence-sitters.
The guest speakers introduced themselves and talked briefly about their activities and accomplishments, then assembled in a town hall meeting setup, listening to main concerns and responded accordingly.
Honorable Saghir Tahir encouraged people to participate in politics. He gave his example of getting elected five times to his current position.
Dr. Khalid Sadozai, who attended the meeting, agreed with Dr. Saeed's viewpoint: "Politics will not make you successful. First be successful in life, in your profession, and then enter politics."
Shahid Ahmed Khan took to heart the advise - "support your friends" - announcing his plans to organize a fundraiser for Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts.
Atif Harden couldn't have stressed the need to vote more; he declared, "Register to vote, never, never, never stop doing this. The beauty of this country and I can say that I can be the president of the United States."
Senator Eldridge said that he would love to see Muslim-Americans run for elections. "I'll help whoever wants to run."
The audience outlined the following pressing issues on their minds: Civil rights, Human rights, Profiling, Downward economy.
Dr. Mohammad Mushtaque, an attendee, was not too happy with the politicians (the likes of Gingrich and Palin) who in order to make campaign promises adopt scare tactics, and as they sow the seeds of hatred, extremists like the Florida Pastor get an excuse to disrespect or "threaten to burn" sacred scripts.
Senator Eldridge assured the community that as a "progressive Democrat", he shall stand by the American-Muslims. He did, however, put some blame on President Obama for the slow job recovery and slow economy rebound. "Financial regulatory reforms should have been stronger," the senator indicated.
The success of the event can be ascertained from some of the following excerpts taken from Senator Eldridge's letter of thanks:
"I want to thank you and the American Muslim Task Force for inviting me to be part of your organization’s Town Hall forum on issues important to the Muslim-American community last night at India Kabob and Grill in Shrewsbury . I’m hoping you can pass on this message from me to all of the people who attended the forum last night, and the other members of the Task Force .
"I really enjoyed the conversations with my fellow panelists and the audience on a wide range of concerns that were expressed, including civil rights, human rights, economic development, public education, and taxes. I am very moved by the warm reception that I received, and was encouraged by the idea of creating a multi-cultural, multi-racial coalition to support the positions that I as a proud progressive Democrat are the foundation of my principles and beliefs. If I can be of any help in helping support the establishment of that coalition, please be in touch, and of course I hope to attend that meeting."
But this is not to rest upon, but to build upon.
Tahir Ali is author of the book "Muslim Vote Counts."