- Title: USA: Muslims voters are poised to make a difference in U.S. midterm elections.
- Date: 3rd November 2006
- Summary: (BN17) STERLING, VIRGINIA, UNITED STATES (OCTOBER 20, 2006) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF MUSLIM WORSHIPPERS AT MOSQUE WOMEN PRAYING CLOSE OF LITTLE GIRL IN ROOM FRONT OF THE ROOM WHERE MEN ARE GATHERED TO THE BACK OF THE ROOM WHERE WOMEN PRAY. SMALL GIRL PUTTING SCARF ON HER MOTHER'S HEAD
- Embargoed: 18th November 2006 12:00
- Location: Usa
- Country: USA
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA4RH89FFFAMS06CL2MEHWTRELB
- Story Text: The coming midterm election on November 7 could be a significant one for American Muslims. With nearly 10 million Muslims in the United States, some local Democratic organisations are focusing their 'get out the vote' efforts in precincts with large Muslim populations.
American Muslims are setting up voter registration booths in mosques across the United States, echoing a tactic employed by evangelical Christians to support conservative Republican candidates. Their target: close contests where Muslim voters could make a difference.
According to Mukit Hossain, a political consultant to the Muslim American Society, there are many close races in this election that could decide which party controls Congress during President George W. Bush's final two years in office.
Hossain says this means Muslim voters in states such as New York, Michigan, Ohio, Florida, Texas, and Virginia could spell the difference between the Democratics winning and losing.
In Virginia for example, Hossain says there are almost 60,000 Muslim registered voters. In an election with such a tight Senate race, the Muslim vote can be the deciding factor. Last year, Governor Tim Kaine was elected by only 113,000 votes.
Nationwide surveys show that Muslim Americans are very concerned about the erosion of civil liberties, human rights violations, unfair immigration laws, and foreign policy.
"There's a little bit of frustration. There's a little bit of worry about the future, you know, we have actually enacted laws, which can identify an American Muslim or an American citizen as an enemy combatant and once that's done and if that person is put in jail, there's absolutely no recourse. We have gotten rid of habeas corpus, we have decided that, we have actually passed laws which now allows the government to torture someone and the confessions out of that torture would be permissible as evidence. I mean these are extremely dangerous laws. Not just for American Muslims but for all Americans but the Muslim community seems to be direct suspect," said Hossain, who is also president of the Muslim American Political Action Committee.
The Virginian Muslim Political Action Committee (VMPAC) is a registered non-partisan Political Action Committee of Muslim Americans living in the state of Virginia. It's goal is to raise awareness, promote interests of American Muslims and help strengthen the community. In a VMPAC survey conducted last year, the organization found there are over 2 million registered Muslim voters nationwide. It also discovered that most Muslims have a higher annual income than average Americans and higher level of education as well.
Hossain said they have been putting computers in mosques with links to voter registration web sites, thus enable Muslims to register on line during Friday prayers. He says that the community is frustrated enough to go out and vote and try to make a difference.
In Minnesota, Democratic congressional candidate Keith Ellison may be breaking political ground. Although there is no sure thing in politics, Ellison could become the first Muslim in American history to be elected to Congress.
During the primary, his campaign triggered a record turnout among Minneapolis's largely Muslim Somali community. The district, which has a long history of voting Democratic, is made up of middle-income whites, middle- to working-income blacks, and immigrants.
The 42-year old Ellison downplays his faith. Instead he focuses on the peaceful message of bridging gaps between all faiths and racial gaps.
"You know it's good for Americans to know that Muslims are here to make a contribution. There are a lot of Muslims who are practicing medicine, who are driving cabs and who are teaching school and who are doing all kinds of things and they're here to help our country be stronger and better place," Ellison said. He adds that "it's also important for Muslims to know that they have to be engaged politically, that they have to get involved and that they will be welcome in the American body politic if they step up and become involved."
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