The US of Allah: Muslim staffers exploit jobs on Capitol Hill for Da'wa: "It's nice to be Muslim and be hopeful about the future"
"Getting Americans to think of Islam as a U.S. religion rather than a foreign one is a big part of the challenge"
MIM: Muslims have been attempting to use the Jihad of Da'wah in order to turn America into the United States of Allah -they openly attest to using their position on Capitol Hill to spread the word without the sword, under the guise of "correcting ignorance about Islam". Last time MIM looked the separation of church and state also applied to the halls of Congress- so why are Muslims given a carte blance to proselytise and spread radical Islamism in the nation's capitol while other religions would have been barred from doing the same? Maybe the answer lies in organisations like the cynically named Muslim Public Service organisation, which promotes Da'wah over democracy - and uses internships in the government to show Islamists "the Islamist perspective of public policy making".http://www.muslimpublicservice.org/msn_more.php?id=13_0_4_0_M
"...You won't just acquire an understanding about politics in Washington, you'll learn the Islamic perspective of public policy making!..."
"...During this summer, you will see the dynamics of politics in House and Senate sessions, attend congressional hearing, and use vast resources of Washington. Your day internship will provide you an unparalleled opportunity to gain hands-on experience of working in a policy making institution. You will attend workshops on U.S. "government affairs by Capitol Hill staffers, senior U.S. government officials, ex-congressmen and NGO's....
The MSN is a nonprofit organization. Its internship program is funded by contributions from Islamic centers, forward-looking Muslim businessmen, and individuals as their investment in the future generations of Muslims in America Our Mission
The program has three objectives: facilitating on-the-job practical training on Capital Hill and other policy making institutions; offering graduate level education in Islam and public policy making; and creating an expanding network of interns who have gained essential experience and useful contacts in a variety of important policy making institutions. http://www.muslimpublicservice.org/more.php?id=5_0_3_0_M The Muslim Public Service Corps is a nonprofit charitable organization, with financial support from forward-thinking Muslim Americans who believe that full participation in the political process serves Muslim Americans as well as society as a whole. Even though most are at the beginning of their careers, alumni of the program have already begun to contribute toward this long-term goal. This is where you can help by sending your contributions (some even supported by corporate matching) for this program. You can also help by encouraging young Muslims to apply for the program.
Since 9/11, Muslim Americans have become a visible minority and a convenient target. While our talent in various spheres of education and business is evident, we have yet to make an impact on the development of public policy in the United States. The MSN program provides the Muslim American community its best opportunity to show America that Muslim values and ideals can provide meaningful contributions, while at the same time defusing the tide of misunderstanding that Muslim Americans face.
Radical Islamist candidate Cynthia McKinney solicits interns on the MPS site:
As do Muslims in the US Army Corp of engineers who gush about being sent to help their brothers and sisters in Pakistan on the US taxpayers dime.
Muslims asserting a presence on Capitol Hill
The association says little more than 20 of 10,000 congressional staffers at the Capitol complex identify themselves as Muslims. There is a smattering of Muslims at other Washington agencies, and some departments have consulted American Muslims for help with the counterterrorism effort. Muslims have served as state legislators, but no members of Congress identify themselves as Muslim, said Corey Saylor, government affairs director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Understanding of Islam - and acceptance of American Muslims - has sometimes seemed as lacking among national leaders as it has elsewhere in the land. Rep. Tom Tancredo (R., Colo.) suggested last summer that the United States "could take out" Islamic holy sites such as Mecca as retribution if there ever were a terrorist nuclear attack on America. And Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.) opposed the deal that would have allowed Dubai Ports World to buy commercial port operations in several U.S. cities, including Philadelphia. "Don't let them tell you that it's just a transfer of title," Lautenberg told a rally in his state. "We wouldn't transfer the title to the devil, and we're not going to transfer it to Dubai."
At times like that, Haq says, "you wonder: What am I doing here, working for an institution that insists on viewing me as an outsider?" Getting Americans to think of Islam as a U.S. religion rather than a foreign one is a big part of the challenge, said John Voll, a Georgetown University professor of Islamic history and expert on Muslim-Christian relations. The number of American Muslims is usually estimated at six million to seven million, about 2 percent of the population. It is believed that roughly 40 percent are black, mostly descendants of slaves, and 60 percent are immigrants and offspring from dozens of nations, Voll said. Aalim-Johnson said the majority of the congressional group was Indo-Pakistani, with others' backgrounds being Turkish, Iranian and African American. "For a lot of Muslims who are first-generation such as myself, when our parents immigrated here, they were working hard at trying to make a better life for their kids," not focused on politics, said Amina Masood, of Pakistani descent, a legislative assistant to Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (D., N.Y.). "Now our generation is grown and realizing we are American... part of this community, and we need to be more active," she said. "I'm a staffer, but I'm also a Muslim, and I care about Muslim issues."
American Muslims gaining a foothold in politicsBy Jill Lawrence, USA TODAY TEANECK, N.J. The mayor of nearby Prospect Park is a 30-year-old high school business teacher with a young son. He was a volunteer firefighter at 18 and has been active in his community ever since. But when he sought the mayor's office last fall, voters received anonymous fliers calling him a "betrayer" tied to the 9/11 terrorists.
Why? Because he is a Syrian-born Muslim named Mohamed Khairullah.
"I was worried for my family," Khairullah says. "Any crazy person could have just driven by and done something. But we just had faith and went on doing what we had to do." The result: he got the job, open because the previous mayor had moved away, and now is running to keep it.
The 9/11 attacks have had a curious double-edged impact on the political emergence of American Muslims. They are up against more stereotyping and backlash, which they perceived recently in the furor over a Dubai company's thwarted plan to take over port operations in several U.S. cities.
At the same time, the 9/11 attacks jolted Muslims into realizing that they needed to make themselves known to their neighbors and heard by their government. They are voting, running for office and getting more involved in civic and political life at every level, from PTAs and school boards to town councils and state legislatures. At least two Texas Republicans Amir Omar and Ahmad Hassan are running for U.S. Congress.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which promotes Muslim political activity, has opened 23 of its 31 U.S. chapters since 9/11. In the 2004 election, two studies found, one in five Muslim voters were first-time voters.
"There was a silver lining. We became more public," says Aref Assaf, president of the New Jersey-based American Arab Forum.
This large-scale entry of Muslims into public life is not only testing the courage of Muslim candidates and the tolerance of voters. It's also prompting politicians to take notice of a community that has growing clout and is open to appeals from both parties.
Could decide close races
American Muslims are hard to count. Many immigrants have Muslim names, but African-American Muslims often don't. For example, one of the highest-ranking Muslim officials in the country is North Carolina state senator Larry Shaw.
Based on tallies of mosque membership and Muslim names, several national organizations estimate there are 4.5 million to 6 million American Muslims. Most live in a dozen big states, giving them the potential to make a difference in tight races. Aslam Abdullah, editor of the weekly Muslim Observer newspaper, says there are about 15 close races for Congress in districts where Muslims are concentrated and could cast decisive votes.
Mosques, numbering more than 1,200 across the country, are "the grassroots center of our political empowerment," Assaf says. They hold voter-registration drives and policy discussions. They invite candidates to speak, offering access to large crowds at Friday prayers.
Up to a third of American Muslims are African-Americans who vote mostly for Democrats. The rest come from Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, the Middle East and Africa. Many lived in dictatorships or theocracies and did not participate in politics in their homelands. "It is definitely a new idea," says Mohamed El Filali, outreach director of the Islamic Center of Passaic County in Paterson.
The immigrants are in tune with Republican conservatism on issues such as abortion, gay rights and religion, say analysts such as Georgetown University professor Zahid Bukhari. But they agree with Democrats on civil liberties and government social programs.
At this point, Muslims aren't firmly allied with either party. Bush won backing from Muslim leaders in 2000, before 9/11, and outperformed Democrat Al Gore among Muslim voters, polls and studies found. Four years later, dismayed by the Iraq invasion and what they saw as civil liberties abuses under the USA Patriot Act, the leaders endorsed Democrat John Kerry, and he won a majority of Muslim voters.
Sherine El-Abd, 60, an Egyptian immigrant and prominent Republican who lives in Clifton, personally tried to convince a number of Muslims to switch back to Bush. It was, she admits, an uphill battle: "There were more that didn't go."
Analysts say the shift is likely to be temporary. "I wouldn't call it a realignment," CAIR research director Mohamed Nimer says. "What we've seen is just a one-time deal."
Muslims are comparable to Hispanics, a much larger swing voter group, in their diversity and their compatibility with positions of both parties. Analysts say they're also similar to Hispanics in that they are young and likely to wield increasing influence.
Mohamed Elibiary, president of the Freedom and Justice Foundation in Dallas, a statewide Muslim advocacy group, cites a 2002 Cornell University finding that 60% of the U.S. Muslim population is 30 or younger: "You have this huge bulge that over the next 10 years is going to mature politically" and be far more active.
His foundation gave that process a jump-start after 9/11. In June 2002, the group held a candidate forum at Texas Stadium, where the Dallas Cowboys play. It drew 7,000 Muslims and registered 2,000 new voters. "It was a reaction to ... feeling like their loyalty to their country was being questioned," Elibiary says. "What could they do? Get politically engaged to prove how mainstream they are."
The ultimate form of involvement is running for office, and by that measure, Muslims are still recovering from 9/11. According to Hazem Kira of the California Civil Rights Alliance, in 2000 there was an "all-time high" of 700 candidates across the country. That plummeted to 70 in 2002 and rose to about 100 in 2004.
There are no statistics yet for 2006. Bukhari, co-director of a project called Muslims in the American Public Square, says grassroots activity is pushing the trend upward. "Muslims are becoming more involved at the county and state level," he says. He says there are three Democrats running for county council and the state legislature in Montgomery County, Md., in suburban Washington, and "that never happened before."
Muslim immigrants who become candidates tend to be observant but not orthodox, and many have U.S. educations. "They are more Americanized," Assaf says.
Of this year's candidates, at least one Khairullah is divorced. At least one is a woman: Democrat Ferial Masry, a teacher making her second run for the California State Assembly from suburban Los Angeles. In Saudi Arabia, where she was born, women cannot vote.
Like Masry, whose district leans Republican, Muslims often run as underdogs. The Dallas Morning News endorsed Omar, son of Iranian and Palestinian immigrants, over two rivals in his GOP congressional primary. If he wins a runoff April 11, he'll face a popular Democratic incumbent in a Democratic district.
Khairullah, a Democrat, was in his second term on the Prospect Park Borough Council when the mayor moved away. The flier that said Khairullah should not be living in "our clean town," that contended he would "poison our thoughts" about America, did not stop his four fellow council members from picking him for the mayoral slot.
"They were disgusted by the letter," Khairullah says. "I've been living in the community the longest out of all the council members. The entire community knows me."
About-face on Bush
In the months before the 2000 election, Muslim leaders were worried about a law allowing the government to use secret evidence in immigration hearings. Leaders were ignored when they approached Gore, says Boston activist Tahir Ali, but Bush was accessible.
In the second presidential debate, Bush criticized the Secret Evidence Act as a form of racial profiling and said he supported repealing it "to make sure that Arab-Americans are treated with respect."
El-Abd, watching at home, says she cried with happiness when she heard Bush acknowledge her community. Ali, author of a book on the Muslim vote, says "we had to go with him" because he seemed responsive to Muslim concerns.
The euphoria of having helped elect a winner quickly dissipated as Bush invaded Iraq and expanded the government's investigative powers under the Patriot Act. Some Muslims refused to get a library card or register to vote, scared of "anything that will put them on a list (that) is retrievable" by the FBI, says Abdul Waheed, 59, a Pakistani immigrant running for Teaneck City Council.
Others were more angry than fearful. Assaf says he was "a lifelong Republican" who voted for Bush in 2000. Now he accuses Bush of a "post-9/11 frenzied attack on Islam" and "purely anti-Arab, anti-Islam" policies.
Ali is also having buyer's remorse, mostly over a war many Muslims tried to avert with calls to contain or oust Saddam Hussein in ways that wouldn't be so hard on ordinary Iraqis. "I go to a lot of communities, (and) people say, 'You are the reason we voted for Bush, and look at what happened,' " Ali says. "I'm feeling ashamed."
Elibiary stuck with Bush in 2004, mostly because he was lukewarm on Kerry. But he says Bush "is about as popular in the Muslim community as he is in the African-American community. Single digits."
That remains true even as Muslims say Bush was right to defend a Dubai-controlled company's plan to take over some U.S. port operations. "The Arabs are coming, the Arabs are coming," says Paterson councilman Aslon Goow, 47, a Syrian-American, mocking the uproar that killed the deal.
A self-described independent, Goow voted for Bush in 2000 and Kerry in 2004. When he ran for re-election to City Council in 2004, he said rumors spread that "because I was a Muslim, I was a terrorist." He says that may be why he won with fewer votes than the first time.
Waheed, the Teaneck council hopeful, was doing business in a building across from the World Trade Center on 9/11. He saw bodies falling from the towers and escaped in a cab driven by a Sikh.
He'd had the same clients for decades; they knew he was Pakistani. A lot were friendly after 9/11, he says, but "there were a few customers who were not. You can sense certain things. Discomfort." He sighs. "Islam is the most misunderstood religion, and Muslims are the most misunderstood people."
Waheed says he is a Democrat, but "on certain issues, I have been in bed with the Republicans." Collecting signatures for the May 9 town council election outside a supermarket, he talks to voters about education, business development, preserving green space. In his baseball cap, holding his clipboard, he could be any candidate anywhere.
"I am running because I am very conscious of the issues of the town," he explains. "I am not running because I want to represent Muslims."
MIM: The attempt to Islamise America via ballots not bullets has been an ongoing theme with Islamists in America. Sheik Yusuf Qawadawi told a gathering of Muslim youth in Toledo that America would not be conquered by the sword but through Da'wa - Islamic propagation and the eventual conversion of all non Muslims. A 1998 conference with the slogan 2,000 for the year 2,000 intended to launch 2000 Muslim candidates by that year. The list of speakers and organisations at the event below are worth noting. Some have been disbanded and several of the participants which included Abdulrahman Alamoudi and Sami Al Arian, have been arrested on terrorism charges and jailed.
JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1998, Pages 85-86
AMA RAISES POLITICAL CONSCIOUSNESS AND $100,000 AT ST. LOUIS CONVENTION
With the slogan "2,000 by the Year 2000," the American Muslim Alliance held its second national convention at the St. Louis, Missouri, Marriott Hotel Oct. 4. The slogan, national chairman Dr. Agha Saeed told delegates, means that the organization plans to encourage 2,000 Muslim candidates to run, for elective office in the U.S. national elections in the year 2000.
If this sounds ambitious in a country which to date does not have a single Muslim member of Congress, members of the AMA board of directors, none of whom are paid for their services and all of whom pay their own travel and other expenses, can point to AMA's phenomenal growth since its founding in 1994. Although the national organization does not issue a charter until a local chapter has 30 paid-up members, by the end of 1997 there were 75 regional chapters, some of them with membership in the hundreds.
Former Illinois Republican Rep. Paul Findley was the keynote speaker at the evening banquet. In earlier sessions former California Republican Rep. Paul N. (Pete) McCloskey of California offered organizational advice and anecdotes from his congressional career, pointing out that "it's not the number of voters for you, it's the number who vote for you" that counts. Former California Representative Jim Bates, now a resident of Idaho and a convert to Islam, offered a five-year master plan for Muslims to foster a positive media image, gain political access and influence, and elect Muslims to offices ranging from school boards to Congress.
A positive sign of things to come was the fund-raising session that followed Representative Findley's speech. Some 400 persons attending the banquet pledged more than $100,000 toward AMA's 1998 budget. Since the entire expenses of this organization, which maintains a national headquarters office with one paid secretary in Fremont, California, were $35,000 in 1996 and an estimated $51,000 in 1997, the jump in revenues presages continued rapid expansion in 1998. Three national programs are planned between January and October to coordinate election-year efforts to turn out the Muslim vote and, where appropriate, reach agreed endorsements of candidates for elective office.
Dr. Syed Akhbar Raza, a Missouri physician, welcomed delegates to St. Louis on behalf of the convention organizing committee with some remarks that were both inspirational and cautionary. "We are, by the grace of Allah, in America and...we are in fact Americans...and we have accepted the benefits of living here," he said. "Now we must create our niche within this country's political system. The longer we allow our ship to be battered by the nationalistic differences from our various native lands, the longer our journey will be stalled...Allow yourselves to forget your home country differences so that we may become one force in America."
Dr. Raza said that in the coming sessions "inevitably these wonderful and knowledgeable speakers will motivate and excite you. You will likely feel the desire to clear tall buildings in a single leap. However, you must temper your enthusiasm with one critical reality. We can accomplish nothing alone. If we are to succeed as we plan, it will take a determined, intense and ultimately satisfying combined effort from all American Muslims, allied as one."
Following up on the theme of unity was an Islamic leadership panel made up of representatives of five of the major Islamic organizations in the United States. Besides AMA national chairman Dr. Agha Saeed and national vice chairman Dr. Shabbir Safdar, the panel included Abdurahman Al-amoudi of the American Muslim Council (AMC) in Washington, DC, Omar Ahmed of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Washington and California, Dr. Maher Hathout of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) in Los Angeles, and Inayat Lalani of the American Muslim Caucus, headquartered in Dallas/Fort Worth. A message of solidarity with the panel was read from Dr. Mohammad Mehdi of the National Council on Islamic Affairs.
To sustained applause AMC President Alamoudi proposed formation of a council of presidents of major American Islamic organizations to provide a framework for effective and unified decisions and actions by Muslims across the United States (see article by Mr. Alamoudi on p. 50 of this issue). (Although Omar Ahmed of CAIR expressed doubt during the panel discussion that the community was ready for such a formal structure so early in its political awakening, he publicly withdrew this objection and pledged CAIR's cooperation with the project at a December AMA program in California which will be covered in the March Washington Report.)
AMA board member Erik Vicker, an African-American attorney from St. Louis, told delegates, "We have to define in the American context what Islam is, who we are and what we stand for...The U.S. is in a state of political chaos. It needs what we have to offer. Our jihad is to struggle for what is right. As we are true to our faith, God will provide us with all the power we seek and more than we can imagine."
Dr. Maher Hathout said "there is no political future for Muslims separate from the future of Muslims as a whole." He called upon his listeners to participate "in the making and shaping of events in this country." He criticized "the Zionist lobby" for "insisting on monopolizing the American destiny" and seeking to "resist allowing Americans to think for themselves." The result, Dr. Hathout said, is the present "schizophrenic American foreign policy."
New York attorney Abdeen Jabara, a former executive director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), noted that in the 1996 elections "candidates spent double what had ever been spent before." Noting that participation in elections is dropping dramatically as American voters increasingly conclude that the individual is disenfranchised by monied interests, he said, "The Dow is up for American democracy in trouble."
Criticizing the Federal Election Commission, composed of three Republicans and three Democrats, Jabara said the six members "catch the little fish and let the big fish get away." He noted, too, that few members of Congress are interested in enacting either of the two campaign finance reforms that could make a difference. These are setting campaign spending limits and providing public financing for election campaigns.
Editor Richard Curtiss of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs suggested that "in the long run there probably is only one way to solve not only the Jerusalem problem, but also the many other problems that beset Muslims in the United States as a result of media stereotyping and the many deliberate attempts to marginalize them and their role in American life. That is for U.S. Muslims to organize themselves to take the lead in helping the American people take back control of their own Middle East policy." He offered a number of suggestions for "making the Muslim presence felt" in the 1998 and 2000 election years.
State Senator Larry Shaw, a Muslim from North Carolina, A.M. Abdul Majeed, deputy director of the Department of Alcohol and Drugs in California, and Najeeb Ahmad, elected to a school board in an area with a low percentage of Muslim residents, were presented to the delegates as members of a panel entitled "Our Success Stories."
Prof. Anwar Syed addressed the question of Muslim participation in a non-Muslim society, an issue that until recently bothered many Muslim immigrants to the United States. "It's no longer a question of whether Muslims should participate," he said. "As far as the American Muslim Alliance is concerned, that question is settled. We have no plans to go away. As far as we're concerned, the old medieval question of Dar al Islam and Dar al Harb does not apply. America is not Dar al Harb."
Professor Syed noted also that "it is clear that Muslim candidates for office cannot hope to win just with Muslim votes. Their purpose cannot merely be advancement of Muslim causes. We have to include American causes."
AMA treasurer Dr. Riaz Ahmad of Detroit, after discussing finances with the members, announced that the AMA now has been granted tax-exempt status. He said, "Donating to AMA is not a charity. It's an obligation. We want to live here, but we are America's most endangered species." He added, however, that "we should take some comfort in the fact that we did make the difference in some states" during the 1996 elections.
Another AMA board member, Dr. M.A.Q. Siddiqi of New Jersey, elaborated on this theme. He reported to members that Sen. Robert Torricelli of New Jersey has noted publicly on three occasions that the Muslim bloc vote was a crucial factor in his narrow 1996 election victory over Dick Zimmer. Dr. Siddiqi noted also that Sen. Tim Johnson publicly credits a campaign by American Muslims of Pakistani background for his victory in South Dakota over an incumbent senator who had authored the legislation that ended the U.S. military aid program to Pakistan.
Other speakers and panel and workshop participants included Imam Mohammed Nur Abdullah, Nasaryab Hassan, Nabil Abdelhamid, Tom Watson, Dr. Rukshanda Hassan, Farooq Ansari, Iqbal Raza, Shamim Hussain, Prof. Bashir Ahmad, Abdul Kungbargi, Rep. Larry Shaw, Nihad Awad, Safir Ahmad, Dr. Mahjabeen Islam-Husain, Prof. Bashir Hussain, Imam Malik Ali, Dr. Mohammed Ali Chaudhry, Asim Ghafoor, Rafiq Jaber, Prof. Samih Alarian and fund-raiser Ahmad Sakr.