Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Restoring America's Promise

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Restoring America's Promise

Article excerpt

NEARLY THREE weeks after the inauguration of President Barack Obama, the American Muslim Taskforce (AMT) on Civil Rights and Elections hosted a thought-provoking conference on a heady topic: "Restoring America's Promise." The first day of the conference, held Feb. 6 and 7 at the L'Enfant Plaza Hotel in Washington, DC, focused on American Muslim politics and the Muslim media. Journalists, leaders of major Muslim political organizations, and elected Muslim officials discussed a wide range of issues including the genesis of organized Muslim politics, institutional growth, strategy development, voting patterns, historical trends, collective strengths and weaknesses, present policies and future plans.

A panel discussion on "Media Coverage of Islam and Muslims" examined the challenges American Muslims face in getting their voices heard in the mainstream media. Joan Mower talked about Voice of America broadcasts, which cannot be aired in the United States, and Delinda Hanley described the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs' efforts to address Muslim concerns and stitch together a community of Arab-, Jewish-, and Muslim-Americans and other voices for peace.

Hodari Abdul-Ali, of the Muslim Alliance in North America, cautioned Muslims to be diligent and intelligent as they tell their own stories. He advocated a huge American Muslim convention in 2012 to present one Muslim voice.

As a father, Dr. Hassan Ibrahim, of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, asked his community to be positive and try not to destroy hope for Muslims growing up in America. Muslims in America have the money and education to make a positive impact on this country, he said, and provide a bridge to their countries of origin.

Imam Mehdi Bray of the Muslim American Society paid tribute to alternative media, including radio and cable TV programming, and pointed out that advocates in the media already exist for Muslims.

Georgetown University Professor Zahid Bukhari said the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 shattered the Muslim immigrant "myth of return." Before 9/11, Muslim immigrants were physically here in this country, but mentally and spiritually they were back home, Bukhari said. "Now we know we're here to stay and we'd better get involved in grassroots activism, politics and the press," he said, adding that immigrant Muslims have much to learn from African-American Muslims.

The next day the subject turned to civil rights issues and shaping the national debate-as well as President Obama's agenda-on civil liberties and human rights.

Dr. Agha Saeed, the founder and chairman of American Muslim Alliance and the AMT, launched the spirited discussion by pointing out that 95 percent of eligible Muslim voters went to the polls in 2008-the highest percentage of any voting group-and that 89 percent voted for Obama. …

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