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Keith Ellison Urges Muslim Community to Get out to Vote
By Abdus Sattar Ghazali

Democratic Muslim Congressman, Keith Ellison has urged the seven-million strong American Muslim community to register as voters and go out to vote in the forthcoming presidential elections.

He was addressing a special luncheon held on January 23, 2016 in his honor at the Chandni Restaurant, Newark, CA.

In his brief speech, Congressman Keith Ellison told the audience that the current contest in the November 2016 election is not about Muslims but it is a fight to include everybody. The congressman was alluding to the anti-Muslim posture of Republican presidential candidates, Donald Trump and Ben Carson.

Donald Trump has called for barring  all Muslims from entering the United States. Trump has previously called for surveillance against mosques and establishing a database for all Muslims living in the US. On the other hand another Republican Presidential candidate Ben Carson has said no Muslim should be president of the United States of America.

Congressman Keith Ellison pointed out that anti-Muslim sentiments or Islamophobia spike in the presidential elections. Donald Trump is a hypocrite and trying to incite fellow Americans against Muslims.

Keith Ellison is the first Muslim Congressman who was elected from Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District in 2007. Andre Carson from Indiana is the second Muslim congressman who was elected in 2008.

Keith Ellison urged the Muslim community to register as voters and vote in the forthcoming elections. He was of the view that on Friday, there should be a table for voter registration in every mosque.

He also said that the Muslim community should actively participate in local elections and Muslims should serve on local school boards. He said if the Muslim voter turnout is 70-80 percent they could change the scenario in local elections.

Keith Ellison pointed out that sending delegates to the national Democratic convention is very important. "You should send many Muslim delegates to the Philadelphia Democratic convention." It may be recalled that a record number of Muslim delegates attended the 2012 Democratic National. An estimated 100 Muslim delegates from 20 different states were in Charlotte, North Carolina, while only a “handful” of delegates attended the Republican National Convention in Tampa during which the RNC adopted a platform plank targeting the religious practices of Muslims. There were 43 Muslim and Arab-American delegates at the DNC in 2008 and 25 in 2004.

Prominent Bay Area Muslim Community leaders, Javed Khan, Shafi Refai and Javed Ellahie had sponsored the special luncheon to honor Congressman, Keith Ellison.

The community leaders reminded the community that the 2016 elections is very crucial for American Muslims which should be seen as a respectable and dignified community. Both Muslim Congressmen Keith Ellison and Andre Carson have gone out of their way to challenge the Republican Presidential hopeful Donald Trump and Ben Carson.

This time again, Keith Ellison is being targeted by several lobbies, including Tea Party and AIPAC, to defeat him in November. Javed Khan told the community that Keith Ellison is in a very vulnerable position, especially this time around, given the current situation in the country. He needs our financial support desperately.

Syed Riffat Mahmood, a former candidate in congressional election, described Donald Trump and Ben Carson as the leaders of bigotry and racism. He asked the American Muslim community what it has done to fight back.

Syed Mahmood said: There are 435 Congressmen in the United States. Jewish community has around 42 congressmen. American Muslims have only 2 congressmen. Both Congressmen are under lot of pressure to preserve their seats in the elections of 2016.

Syed Mahmood presented his book "The American Revolution As Affected by the Muslim World: A Historic perspective" to Rep. Keith Ellison. This book is regarding a very special segment of American History which has never before been discussed in such detail. In order to avoid the political, social, cultural and religious clash among Civilizations, this book will help Americans, political leaders, journalists, students and scholars to understand the challenges we are facing in today's world.

Abdus Sattar Ghazali, writer and journalist, also presented his book "Islam & Muslims in the Post 9/11 America" to the congressman. The book is a study which describes the impact of 9/11 on the American Muslims and how they are responding to the post-9/11 situation when their civil rights have been curtailed, their faith is under constant attack and they are virtually treated as second class citizens.

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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