Muslim Democrats Trying to Build on Obama Momentum
By William Wan
One interesting outgrowth of the presidential campaigns last year was the effort among Muslim Americans to rally voters for Obama and, in the process, create a Democratic bloc among U.S. Muslims. Out of this came the website/group MuslimDemocrats.net.
Now the group is trying to capitalize on the election momentum to create and mobilize a network of Muslim Democrats across the country. One initial step is a training session for the group's leaders, in Chicago July 18. The goal is to teach Muslim Americans: 1) How to organize people for any cause; 2) How to participate in political campaign; 3) How to run for office.
In a phone interview, Malik Mujahid, one of the group's founders, talked about how the group and its website grew out of the 2008 election and where it's now headed.
The group's initial focus was to provide outreach in five key swing states during the election. In the process, the group says it developed a database of 300,000 Muslim American voters and recruited 800 volunteers.
"There was a need for this. Muslim Democratic support was somewhat soft," said, Mujahid, a former member of the credentials committee of the Democratic National Committee. "Muslim's had mixed feelings during the election--definitely not enthusiastic for the Republicans after the Bush era, but not entirely for Democratic either." One problem they faced early on was the effort from the Obama campaign to distance him from the Muslim community.
Mujahid said the group's efforts now include lobbying Obama to reverse Bush era policies and attend to issues close to Muslims, such as security hassles at airports, the continuing war in Afghanistan and the spread of hostilities into Pakistan.
In the interest of fairness, I tried to find a similar group organizing on the Republican side, but haven't had much success. An almost mirror website exists called MuslimRepublicans.net, but no contact info available and items on the site seem to date back a year ago or more. Let me know if there are similar groups or efforts among Muslims on the Republican side.
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