Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, December 2004, pages 58-59

Muslim-American Activism

Project MAPS Announces American Muslim Poll Results

(L-r) Prof. John Esposito, Prof. Zahid Bukhari, Prof. John Voll and Prof. Sulayman Nyang announce a political sea-change in Muslim American public opinion (staff photo D. Hanley).
   

THE RESULTS OF the American Muslim Poll 2004 were announced at an Oct. 19 press conference at Georgetown University’s Levey Center. Speakers included Prof. John Esposito, founding director of Georgetown’s Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding; Prof. John Voll, the center’s current director; Prof. Sulayman Nyang, professor of African Studies at Howard University; and Dr. Zahid Bukhari, director of Georgetown’s Project MAPS, Muslims in the American Public Square. MAPS conducted a nationwide poll through Zogby International to examine current Muslim-American opinions and fallout from 9/11, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Muslims views have shifted massively from 2000, when most supported George W. Bush over Vice President Al Gore, to today, when 76 percent support Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and just 7 percent support Bush. “The results of this survey are truly astonishing,” said Dr. Bukhari. “For American Muslims, there has been a sea-change in political alignment and outlook since 9/11. The political realignment in the Muslim community is unprecedented in all of American history.”

This realignment seems to be the result of many factors, including a higher emphasis by American Muslims on domestic rather than foreign policy. The poll found that 57 percent of Muslims know someone who has experienced anti-Muslim discrimination in the workplace or school, or their own neighborhoods, after 9/11. A quarter of Muslims say they have been victims of racial profiling.

Muslim Americans have strong opinions of the war on terror, with 35 percent supporting the Afghanistan war, while only 13 percent support the war on Iraq. American Muslims say the United States is fighting a war on Islam (38 percent) rather than terror (33 percent).

The vast majority of American Muslims (87 percent) support a U.S. policy backing a Palestinian state, and a reduction of U.S. support for Israel (80 percent). They also say the U.S. should reduce its support of undemocratic regimes in the Muslim world (66 percent). Muslims support the idea that the U.S. must deal with social, economic, and political inequalities around the world to defeat terrorism (87 percent).

Despite their disillusionment with the current administration, the survey found that 51 percent of Muslims say this is a good time to be a Muslim in America.

Delinda C. Hanley

CAIR Holds Its 10th Annual Banquet With Prominent Guest Speakers

Amy Goodman signs copies of her new book, Exception to the Rulers (staff photo S. Kandil).
   

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) held its 10th annual banquet Oct. 2 at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, DC. More than 1,100 attended the fund-raising event, whose theme this year was “Building a Better America: A Decade of Dedication.”

The evening began with a beautiful Qur’anic recitation by Hassan Ahmad, legal counsel for CAIR-MD/VA. The evening’s emcee, Rizwan Jaka, followed with remarks recognizing the banquet’s sponsors.

Ihsan Bagby, associate professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Kentucky and CAIR board member, was the first speaker. He stated that although everyone is proud of what CAIR has accomplished, the organization needs to “go to the next level.” In order to do so, he said, there needs to be more grassroots organizations.

Next, the Islamic Community Service Award was presented to three notable people in the Muslim community. The first recipient was the Honorable Hassan A. El-Amin of the Maryland District Court for Prince Georges County. Judge El-Amin urged the Muslim community to “listen to the African-American people.” Because of their struggles in the past and their experiences, he said, the African-American community can teach other minority groups how to fight and win the struggle against injustice.

The second honoree was Chaplain James “Yusuf” Yee, who was falsly accused of espionage at the U.S. detention camp in Guantanemo Bay. Chaplain Yee said that there is a real sense of urgency now to support CAIR and, in his humble and encouraging speech, asked everyone to direct their thanks to CAIR, not to him. He felt as if he did not deserve the award, he said, because “he didn’t do anything.”

The third award recipient was Hadia Mubarak, the first female president of the National Muslim Students Association. Mubarak was unable to attend the ceremony.

Next, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) executive director Laura Murphy warned that the government is making it known that it will raid Muslim homes and mosques and question community members and worshippers. Noting that this is a violation of Muslims’ civil rights, she vowed that both ACLU and CAIR would always be there to counsel anyone in need.

Following Murphy’s remarks, a film trailer for a new animated film called “Muhammad: the Last Prophet” was presented by CAIR-MD/VA. This Disney-style animation was created by Muslims and will be shown in select theaters for only one week, beginning Nov. 14, and at a limited number of times.

In his remarks, CAIR executive director Nihad Awad urged Muslim parents to encourage their children to study law, mass communications and political sciences. He also proposed a program asking donors to pay a one-year salary to a new college graduate in order for him or her to volunteer and work for Congress.

Continuing the evening, Amy Goodman, host and executive producer of Pacifica Radio’s “Democracy Now,” was presented the Islamic Community Award for Journalism. Goodman discussed the media and how it is supposed to provide “checks and balances” rather than just be a “megaphone” for authority. “Dissent is what makes a country healthy,” she argued. Instead, she said, corporate media “have silenced the majority, not empowered it.”

Americans need media that reflect the people, she insisted, and do not “sanitize war.” Urging people to get involved in mass communications and stand up for democracy, Goodman concluded her powerful speech with the words, “Democracy Now! Democracy Now!”

The keynote, and final, speaker, independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader, explained that the PATRIOT Act took power away from the judiciary branch and gave it to the executive branch of government. In other words, he said, the PATRIOT Act, which is up for renewal next year, allows the president to bypass the courts, avoiding judiciary checks and balances.

Regarding the Palestinian-Israeli issue, Nader said the United States “must side with the peace movement on both sides.” On the matter of Iraq, Nader, contending that neither major presidential candidate has a strategy on withdrawing from Iraq, described both President George W. Bush and Sen. John Kerry as the “continue war on Iraq” candidates.

“The mother of assent in our country is dissent,” Nader concluded, and urged everyone to vote because, he said, every vote means something. For more information on the new animated film, “Muhammad: the Last Prophet,” visit <www.finemediagroups.com> or call 1-800-FMG-2000.

Shereen Kandil

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