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Muslims in election 2006
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Executive Editor: Abdus Sattar Ghazali

Election Watch 2006

Congressman Goode urged to publicly retract  his racist remarks on Muslims and immigrants
Dec. 23: There was a sharp reaction to Virginia Congressman Virgil Goode’s letter sent to his constituent in which he expressed his opposition to using the Quran during an unofficial and optional swearing-in ceremony for the nation's first elected Muslim congressman, Member-Elect Keith Ellison of Minnesota. Goode also expressed his, "fear that in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America and to prevent our resources from being swamped." The Anti-Discrimination Committee said this type of racist and Islamophobic remarks have no place in our diverse democratic nation, said In a letter to Congressman Goode. The Council on American-Islamic Relations condemned Goode's remarks and called on him to apologize. The CAIR) called on state and national GOP leaders to repudiate anti-Muslim remarks made by the Republican congressman. The Muslim Public Affairs Council called on Americans of all walks of life to contact Virginia Congressman Virgil Goode to demand that he retract and apologize for his intolerant and hateful comments about Muslims and immigrants found in a recent letter to constituents. Congressman Michael M. Honda, (Democrat from CA) in a letter to Goode said “I was surprised and offended to hear about a constituent letter “you wrote in response to Representative-elect Keith Ellison’s intention to use a Quran during his ceremonial swearing in ceremony. Congressman Bill Pascrell, (Democrat from New Jersey) in a letter to Goode said the United States Constitution is clear on this issue when its states in Article VI, section 3: "...no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States." New York Times, in an editorial entitled “Fear and Bigotry in Congress” pointed out that we appreciate the help of Mr. Prager and Mr. Goode in demonstrating how very fast things can get both nutty and unpleasant once the founding fathers’ wise decision to avoid institutionalizing any religious faith gets breached. National Public Radio reported that Congressman Virgil Goode is standing by a letter he wrote to constituents, warning of an influx of Muslims and Muslim-elected officials if tighter immigration policies aren't put into place. (AMP Report)

Row over Ellison’s decision to take oath on the Quran
Dec. 10: The choice by Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to the U.S. Congress, to take his oath of office on the Quran, has stirred a debate. Ellison has been criticized by some Christian organizations and a conservative radio host, who say that even if the law allows him to take an oath on the Quran, he should adhere to what they call the historical tradition of taking the oath of office on the Bible. The American Family Association (AFA) urged lawmakers to pass a law requiring that the Bible be used in congressional swearing-in ceremonies. The AFA pointed out that the American values are based on the Bible and not the Quran. Radio talk show host and author Dennis Prager wrote in his column: "Mr. Ellison, America, not you, decides on what book its public servants take their oath." He went on to say that if Keith Ellison is allowed to change that, he will be doing more damage to the unity of America and to the value system that has formed this country than the terrorists of 9/11. “It is hard to believe that this is the legacy most Muslim-Americans want to bequeath to America."  Dave Colling, Ellison's spokesman said Ellison's office has received hundreds of "very bigoted and racist" e-mails and phone calls since Prager's column appeared. "The vast majority said, 'You should resign from office if you're not willing to use the book our country was founded on,' " Colling said. According to the Library of Congress, Theodore Roosevelt became the first and only president to take an oath without a Bible in 1901. In 1961, John F. Kennedy took his oath on a Catholic (Douay) version of the Bible. Several Jewish members of Congress have taken their oath on the Torah. Article VI of the Constitution specifies that "... no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." (AMP Report)

American Muslims gear up for the next week’s elections
Nov. 2: An intensive voter registration and get-out-the-vote drive is under way in the seven-million strong American Muslim community before the Nov 7 mid-term election.  The Muslim groups are targeting 12 states with a high concentration of Muslim population: California, Illinois, New York, Texas, New Jersey, Michigan, Florida, Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota.The Muslim American Society, which has set up voter registration booths in mosques across the country, has added 30,000 new voters to the rolls in recent weeks.In Illinois, another state with a heavy concentration of Muslims, the Council of Islamic Organisations of Greater Chicago has been working to register more of the area's approximately 400,000 Muslims to vote. In California which hosts 20 per cent of the American Muslim population, American Muslim Voice (AMV) and American Muslim Alliance (AMA) are also encouraging Muslims to register as voters and participate in the national political process. The AMA has issued an election advisory suggesting its preference for the candidates who supported the Muslims on the issue of civil rights which remains the top Muslim concern in elections since 2000.  (American Muslims gear up for the next week’s elections By Abdus Sattar Ghazali)

First Muslim elected to the U.S. Congress
Nov. 7: Keith Ellison, a Democratic candidate from Minnesota’s 5th District, today created history when he became the first Muslim to be elected to the US Congress. Ellison got 136,061 or 56% votes while his rival, Republican Party candidate, Alan Fine, received only 52,263 or 21% votes. Independent candidate Ms. Tammy Lee also got 21% or 51,456 votes. Voters responded to his liberal message calling for peace, withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and universal health care. In a victory message to his voters, Ellison said that he made history because he showed that a candidate can run a 100% positive campaign and prevail, even against tough opposition. American Muslim Voice Executive Director, Samina Faheem Sundas, welcoming the election of Ellison said that the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, have both heightened prejudice against Muslims and spurred Muslims to be more politically active in hopes of countering that prejudice. "There are millions of Muslims in this country. It shouldn't have taken this long to elect one to Congress." (AMP Report)

American Muslims in 2006 elections
Nov. 10: The seven-million-strong American Muslim community got a big political push when the Minnesota Democrat Keith Ellison was elected as the nation's first Muslim member to the US Congress in November 7, 2006 elections.  Ellison's election was accompanied by a massive turnout of the American Muslim voters to make their voices heard. It is not clear how many Muslim Americans contested in the 2006 elections but there are fragmented reports that dozens were candidate for various offices from US Congress, State Senate and assemblies to local bodies. An informal poll of Muslim voters, conducted by the New Jersey Chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ), indicated that the vast majority in that state voted for Democrats in the mid-term elections. There are at least 18,000 registered Muslim voters in the state of New Jersey. An informal poll of Muslim voters, conducted by the CAIR Columbus office indicated that the overwhelming majority of Muslim voters in that state voted for Democrats in the mid-term elections. Seventy-five Muslim voters from Ohio responded to a post-election survey. More than 90 percent of the respondents said they had voted for Democratic Party candidates. (American Muslims in 2006 elections By Abdus Sattar Ghazali)

Senator Webb's thin margin of victory in Virginia boosted by Muslim voter turnout
Nov. 10: The Muslim American Society's Center for Electoral Empowerment (CEE) has reported a significant increase in the turnout among Muslim voters for the 2006 midterm election. It attributed Jim Webb’s thin victory in Virginia against the incumbent senator George Allen partly to the Muslim vote.  There are approximately 60,000 Muslim voters in Virginia, with 85% of them living in Northern Virginia. According to MAS CEE Director Mukit Hossain, it is estimated that 47,700 Muslims voted for Jim Webb, which positively contributed to his narrow victory over Senator George Allen. (MASNET)

Anaheim city council race heats up over Mideast politics
Oct. 9:  Politics in the Middle East have usurped traffic congestion and job creation as the hot topic in the upcoming municipal election, with a powerful GOP operative accusing one of the city council candidates of pro-Hezbollah and anti-Israel activities. A letter by former state Republican Party chairman Shawn Steel has been circulating on the Internet for a week, accusing city council candidate and Syrian immigrant Belal “Bill” Dalati of helping sponsor an anti-Israel rally and associating with “zany left wing groups.” The letter was posted on OC Blog, a politically conservative site, by former state Sen. John Lewis, who is a consultant for Councilman Bob Hernandez, one of Dalati's opponents in the nonpartisan race. The post was titled “Something Scary in Anaheim.”The controversy is not the first time the Middle East crisis has spilled over into the local political scene in areas with large Arab-American populations. Most recently, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa apologized to local Muslim leaders who accused him of taking Israel's side in the violence in Lebanon and ignoring invitations to attend Muslim peace vigils. (Associated Press)

Candidates urged to avoid anti-Muslim rhetoric
Oct. 10: The Southern California office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) today called on politicians in that state to avoid "smear campaigns and fear-mongering" to target candidates of Muslim or Arab background or those who associate with the California Muslim community. CAIR cited the case of Bill Dalati, a Republican candidate for Anaheim City Council who has been the target of vicious attacks by former state Republican Party Chairman Shawn Steel. Steel supports Dalati's opponent, incumbent Bob Hernandez. In a letter, Steel called Dalati a "Manchurian candidate" and questioned his patriotism for supporting elected officials who have been critical of President George W. Bush's Iraq policies. Steel also criticized Dalati's participation at a rally this summer. That rally was attended by Christians, Jews, Muslims and people of other faiths, and demanded an immediate cease-fire to the most recent outbreak of war in the Middle East. Steel has a history of Islamophobia. He once claimed Islam is a diseased religion. In a separate race, 47th Congressional District incumbent Loretta Sanchez has been targeted using similar tactics. Sanchez's opponent Tan Nguyen has angered local Muslims with his offensive and inflammatory use of a photograph of a Middle Eastern terrorist to link the hot-button issues of illegal immigration and terrorism. Sanchez has closely worked with all religious groups, including Muslims. (CAIR Bulletin)

Record number of Muslim voters registered in Chicago
Oct. 11: The Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) announced today that it has registered over 1,000 new Muslim voters through the New Americans Democracy Project (NADP) in partnership with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR). “Registering people to vote is only the first step in community empowerment. Once they register to vote, we will educate them on their options so that they are able to make informed decisions at the polls,” said Ahmed Rehab, Executive Director of CAIR-Chicago. “We are working on a project that extends beyond any other political mobilization project that the Muslim community has seen so far. It will create voters as well as active civic participants.” (CAIR Bulletin) 

Iraq remains top problem in November 2006 election

Oct. 18: Americans continue to be more likely to name Iraq as the nation's top problem than any other concern. This month's update shows a significant drop in the percentage of Americans who cite any economic issue as the most important problem, likely due to declining concern about gas prices. In addition to Iraq and economic concerns, other prominent public concerns include terrorism, dissatisfaction with the way government is run, immigration, healthcare, and decline in morality and ethics. Concern about immigration is now lower than it was in the late spring and early summer. For decades, the Gallup Poll has been asking Americans to name the most important problem facing the country today. (Gallup News Service)

Election Watch 2006 - Page II