Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Muslim and Arab American Activities in Election 2000

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Muslim and Arab American Activities in Election 2000

Article excerpt

MUSLIM AND ARAB AMERICAN ACTIVITIES IN ELECTION 2000

Lacking a nation-wide network of weekly community newspapers, and about a century of prior experience enjoyed by Jewish organizations, Arab-American and Muslim-American political and educational organizations have fewer ways of communicating with potential voters. Nevertheless, some groups are making their mark in Election Year 2000. At local levels there is much good to report. Before the March 7 Super Tuesday primaries, many local mosques and Islamic centers had invited local candidates to appear at ongoing functions to hear Muslim concerns and also to introduce themselves to Muslim voters.

There also have been town meetings organized by national Arab- and Muslim-American organizations, in conjunction with local sponsoring groups, to introduce candidates for elective offices at all levels to their communities, and the communities to the candidates. The Arab American Institute (AAI), in conjunction with local organizations, held three town meetings in California, one in Michigan (see p. 90), one in Ohio (see p. 62) one in Texas and one in Virginia. AAI, which presents election news on its Web site, www.aaiusa.org, plans other town meetings for Illinois and in the New York-New Jersey area. Also working with local sponsors or chapters, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) held two town meetings in California, and the American Muslim Alliance (AMA) held five such town meetings. California-based AMA also has been extremely active on a nation-wide basis in encouraging Muslims to run for elective office from school boards to Congress. To do this it has used its very limited resources for civic action training sessions both for Muslim voters and for Muslim candidates. Prior to Super Tuesday it also posted recommendations on its Web site www.amaweb.org for California candidates for the Senate and House and for all of the state Senate, state Assembly, and state ballot initiatives.

PRESIDENTIAL DISARRAY

Prospects are dimming, however, for potential Muslim-American and Arab-American impact on this year's presidential elections, where the differences between the remaining candidates on Mideast policy are increasingly discernible. (George W. Bush already has taken to referring to "America's churches, synagogues and mosques" in his speeches, a first for either a Republican or Democratic presidential candidate in any election. And recently, when asked if he would move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, he has taken to hedging his earlier affirmative answers by saying he wouldn't do anything to wreck the peace process. …

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