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Muslim American group seeks bigger role in American politics
By Ali Younes and Sadallah Mahmoud
In a joint press conferences held in Washington DC Wednesday, leaders of several national Muslim organizations announced the formation of a new umbrella organization to empower the Muslim-American community and to enhance Muslims political participation in the U.S.
The new organization, called the US Council of Muslim Organizations will be based in Washington D.C. and will work to advance American Muslims political participation. A statement issued by the new group said that “The new national council’s first priority will be to build on Muslim citizenship rights by conducting a census of American Muslims to create a database that will be used to enhance political participation in upcoming elections. “
Oussama Al Jammal the secretary General of the new group told the Arab Daily News that the new organization seeks to take advantage of the political climate in the country that courts minority votes which would in turn help minority groups, Muslims among them, attain better standing and influence within the American political system.
‘The republicans lost the last presidential elections because they lost the minority Latino vote” said Al Jammal. Based on that understanding and on the changing American political system, Al Jammal’s group hopes to become the main driver of Muslim political participation that will eventually place the community in a position to play the same role Latino’s did in 2012.
Ibrahim Hooper the National Communication director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, CAIR, told the Arab Daily News that the main goal of the new organization, when it comes to politics, is “ mobilization” and “ get out to vote” campaigns, and not necessarily endorsing particular candidates. He said that this idea has been floating for three years on how to organize the local and regional Muslim communities, Mosques, organizations ,and Shura Councils across US cities.
According to Al Jammal, the number of Muslim Americans in the country ranges between 5-7 millions a number that he acknowledges that cannot be verified at this point, but he hopes that his group will in the future provide accurate figures on the American Muslim communities. The Pew Research center also put the number of Muslim population in the US around 5-7 million.
The US Census bureau put the number of Arab Americans in 2010 around 2 million, while the Arab American institute estimates the number of Arab Americans , which include Christians and Muslims , around 3, 660,000 in 2012. The Census bureau dose have not questions about religious affiliations.
As to how his group will be able to achieve a Muslim voter turnout that will be considered important enough for politicians to seek it, Al Jammal said that working with other groups and through civic engagement to educate the community on the importance of political involvement will help lead them in that direction.
He pointed out to Chicago’s Muslim-American experience where Muslim Americans ran for elections in their local communities, in school boards, local library boards and others. He described this civic and political involvement as a “ successful one” and will eventually lead to better integration of the community within the American political system. Chicago’s Muslim population are around 450,000 according to Al Jammal.
12 regional and national Muslim organizations have signed on as members of the new organization among them: The Mosque Cares (Ministry of Imam W. Deen Mohammed) Muslim American Society (MAS)American Muslims for Palestine (AMP)Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)Islamic Circle of North American (ICNA). The Mosque Foundation of Bridge View , ILL.
(Photo Courtesy US Council of Muslim Organizations www.uscmo.org)
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Ali Younes is the Editor of The Arab Daily News online newspaper. He is a veteran news-editor, Journalist, and a Middle East analyst working for major American news networks. He isbased in Washington D.C. Reach Ali at aliyounes@TheArabDailyNews.com
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