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Khan is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Adrian College in Michigan.
He is a Visiting Fellow at Brookings Institution and a Fellow of the
Institute for Social Policy and Understanding.
For a comprehensive resume
click here: Resume
Diversity in Islam
American Muslims in Public Policy
Muslims in America: Roadmap for
American Muslims: Bridging Faith
M. A. Muqtedar Khan
This article and its various avatars were was published in The Detroit News [04.16.04], Daily Times Pakistan [03.27.04], Muslim Wake Up [03.29.04], Pakistan Tribune [03.30.04], American Muslim Perspective [03.27.04], The Muslim Observer [04.08.04], The Minaret [April, 2004] and Pakistan Link [04.09.04].
In the coming
Presidential elections, the stakes are very high for American Muslims. If
George Bush can be defeated, there is hope that many of the
unconstitutional practices instituted by the USA Patriot Act will be
revoked by his successor, Muslim organizations will be spared undue
hardship and America may be less likely to invade Muslim countries under
dubious circumstances. The community will be able to relax and focus its
energies on not only restoring Islamic and Muslim institutions in America
but also on winning back the hearts and minds of the rest of America.
Political mobilization within the American Muslim community is more intense and more widespread than ever before. Everyone who can vote is determined to vote and many will vote against incumbent. National and local initiatives have expedited voter registration and a strong desire for change promises a high voter turn out.
While the mood
in the community is strongly anti-Bush, there are pockets of support for
the current regime. Iraqis, particularly the Shiite community is very
happy with the Bush administration and it will break ranks to support
George W. Bush. The Shiites of South Asia see the invasion of Iraq as a
just war against oppression. They will not only vote for Bush but will
also contribute heavily to his war chest.
conservative Muslims will come out in support of Bush. There are
individual Muslims like Mori Husseini, CEO of ICI Homes who have become
rangers (those who raise more than $200,000). Dr. Malik Hasan who told the
New York Times that he “adores the President’s accomplishments” is a
pioneer (raised over $100,000) and there are many more like them. There is
a diversity of political opinions within the American Muslim community
which will ensure that in spite of strong anti-Bush sentiment, the
President will get some support either for his pro-democracy rhetoric
overseas or for his social conservatism at home.
The American Muslim Task
Force on Civil Rights and Elections 2004, an official umbrella
organization of many American Muslim Organizations, has made Civil rights
its main concern, they call their strategy “Civil Rights Plus.” They
have identified American Muslim concerns as (1) Civil Rights, (2) domestic
issues and general welfare and (3) Global peace with justice, war
prevention and US relations with the Muslim World. This group is
essentially the same group that under the name American Muslim Political
Coordination Committee endorsed George W. Bush and, according to them,
delivered 78% of American Muslim votes to him in 2000.
Dr. Aslam Abdullah of the
Muslim Electorate’s Council of America (not a member of the taskforce)
reports that a national study conducted by his organization reveals that
there are 2.7 to 3.0 million potential Muslim voters today, but only 60%
are registered reducing the possible number of votes to 1.6-1.8 million.
Even if there is a high turnout of Muslims in November 2004, we are
looking at about 1-1.25 million votes. This can be a significant number in
a close election and American Muslims could play a pivotal role.
Can American Muslims really
make a difference in 2004? If George Bush does lose by a million votes in
2004, then can American Muslims actually claim that they made the
difference? Will it then teach American politicians not to mess with
Muslim civil rights and Iraq? American
Muslims hope that they can make a difference and make a point.
If American Muslims played
the block vote politics again by endorsing the democratic candidate the
potential gains through a democratic victory needs to be balanced against
the dangers of another Bush victory. What the Democrats are willing to do
to restore civil rights in America and reign in American military; they
will do even if American Muslims do not vote for them. But if American
Muslims endorse Kerry and Bush wins, then we will find out if the
Republicans bear grudges and how far they are willing to go to teach a
lesson to those who try to teach them lessons.
My advice to American
Muslims is to stop having an instrumental relationship with the American
system. It is time the community went way beyond one or two defining
issues and started integrating with the challenges that America faces at
large. We must allow our community members to find causes that they care
for and let them vote their conscience. Voting blocks are antithetical to
the spirit of democracy; they involve an undemocratic imposition of agenda
defined by the elite on all members of the community. If American Muslims
must find an authentic expression to their citizenship, then they must
follow their conscience and vote for a better America based on
self-interest and personal-judgment.
A. Muqtedar Khan is Director of International Studies and
Chair, Political Science Department at Adrian College. He is a
non-resident fellow at the Brookings Institution. He is the author of American
Muslims: Bridging Faith and Freedom (2002) and Jihad for Jerusalem:
Identity and Strategy in International Politics (2004). He writes and
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