Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

George, Jeb and the Muslim Vote

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

George, Jeb and the Muslim Vote

Article excerpt

George, Jeb and the Muslim Vote

Paul Findley, a member of Congress (R-IL) from 1961 to 1983, is the author of a new book, Silent No More: Confronting America's False Images of Islam, available from the AET Book Club. He resides in Jacksonville, Illinois.

U.S. Muslims--a strong, new presence on America's political landscape--are unhappy with the Bush brothers--George W., the man they helped win the presidency last November, and Jeb, who seeks re-election next year as governor of Florida.

Those in Florida threaten to express their displeasure next year by opposing Jeb's bid. They find him inaccessible and are upset by the continuation of profiling by Florida police. They also see a public campaign against the governor's re-election as a way to draw brother George W.'s attention to Muslims' national agenda, which includes an end to the use of secret evidence in deportation proceedings, support of Palestinian human rights, and the appointment of Muslims to prominent administrative positions.

During the past few weeks, I encountered repeated evidence of a Muslim revolt against both the president and the governor. It was common talk among those attending national conventions of the American Muslim Council in Washington, DC, and the Islamic Circle of North America in Cleveland, as well as an Ohio convention of the Council on American Islamic Relations.

With Jeb Bush certain to face a strong challenge in his bid for a second term, the Muslim vote could be just as decisive in retiring him from Florida's highest office as it was last year in clearing George's path to the nation's top job.

The president may not recognize it, but he is heavily indebted to Muslim voters. On Nov. 7, they gave him a huge plurality, estimated as high as two million votes. Exit polls showed a sudden, massive Muslim landslide for Bush. Polls taken early in the presidential campaign showed Vice President Al Gore the favorite. On election day, Bush received 70 percent of the Muslim vote nationally and 90 percent in Florida.

The national tide for Bush began only two weeks before the voting, when leaders of the four principal Muslim policy organizations called for a bloc vote for the Republican candidate. Muslims demonstrated remarkable discipline, departing from their normal tendency to support Democrats. Two of the four principal Muslim leaders who organized the bloc vote for Bush--Salam Al-Marayati and Dr. …

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