(Washington, D.C., 11/2/2016) – The US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), the largest coalition of national, regional, and local Muslim organizations, is proud to announce today that the response to the One Million Voters Drive it proclaimed in December 2015 and Get out The Vote campaign across the nation has been overwhelmingly successful. Volunteers, member organizations and local communities have responded by organizing voter registration booths at more than 2500 mosques, 500 schools, and many community centers nationwide, and during special holidays such as our National Muslim Voter Registration Day on Eid al-adha, September 12, 2016.
Reports from various cities across the United States indicate that thousands of new Muslim voters have registered this year, surpassing any previous year in the history of the community. We believe there are two factors that have contributed to the success of this campaign and the high turnout of newly registered voters. One is due to the hard work of many Muslim organizations, activists, Imams, and local community leaders. The second is largely due to the highly charged political environment, the attack on the Muslim community and other minorities, and the serious concern over the sharp increase of hate crimes on the Muslim community.
“With large concentrations of Muslim voters in key swing states such as Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Virginia, the American Muslim population is positioned to tip those elections and to determine who will be the next President of the United States,” sais USCMO Secretary General Oussama Jammal.
According to the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), there were an estimated 500,000 Muslim voters in 2012. Based upon the strong response compared to previous years, we believe we have reached our target goal of 1 million voters. Moreover, according to CAIR’s October election survey, 86 percent of registered Muslim voters intend to vote in this year’s presidential election.
“The massive outpouring of support and participation in the campaign illustrates the seriousness of this election among the American Muslim community and their determination and dedication to be a part of this year’s critical election,” Jammal said.
Currently, the USCMO is offering only estimated numbers as the final statistics will not be available until after the elections due to the different voter registration deadlines in each state.
“We are very pleased with the results of this campaign,” Jammal said, “because it shows decisively how American Muslims are contributing members of society and part of the social fabric of this country.”
USCMO announced October 23, 2016 as a National Open Mosque Day. The purpose was to reach out to the neighboring non-Muslim community and counter the anti-Muslim rhetoric with understanding, tolerance, and friendship. We reached out to mosques and leaders around the country to promote and encourage participation in this very important day and numerous mosques responded to the call. A complete list of mosques that reached back to us promising to hold the event can be found here. A friendly user e-guide was also put together, as a resource for mosques, which instructed on how to put together an open mosque day from A to Z.
This was part of the One America Campaign launched by USCMO which included two other initiatives:
- Open Iftar in Ramadan – inviting non-Muslim neighbors to come and break bread with their local Muslim communities.
- National Muslim Voter Registration Day – This took place on Eid Al-Adha where voting booths were set up after Eid prayers on September 12, 2016 and Muslim were encouraged to register to vote if they had not already.
- National Open Mosque Day celebrated in Lawton
- Muslims open mosques to help open minds and hearts
- Open Mosque Day opens minds: ‘We’re not different’
Source: CNN.COM – Br MJ Lee – October 17, 2016
Muslim Americans describe the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks as a seminal moment that painfully altered their place in American society.
But when CNN interviewed American Muslims about the presidential election, we heard a startling message: 2016 is worse.
CNN traveled last month to three growing Muslim communities — in Minneapolis, Northern Virginia and Staten Island — which represent the diversity and increasing political engagement of Muslims in the United States. The majority of people we spoke to said it is harder to be a Muslim American today than it was even after 9/11.
“I have never thought I would hear my young daughter say, ‘Dad, people were asking me about my scarf in the school,’ ” said Hamse Warfa, a Somali refugee who immigrated to the US as a teenager and now lives in the Minneapolis suburbs. “After 9/11, there was no ring-leader, so to speak, who was championing, mainstreaming, hate.”
That “ring-leader” Warfa was referring to is Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president.
Trump has run a hardline, anti-immigration campaign built on promises to erect a wall and deport millions of undocumented immigrants. Last December, he announced a proposal to ban Muslims from entering the country. And he has suggested that profiling would be an effective strategy to prevent terrorism.
CNN interviewed more than 40 Muslim Americans who expressed raw emotions ranging from disbelief to anger to fear. Perhaps most disturbing about this election, many said, is the perception that Trump has helped to normalize animosity toward and suspicion of Muslims in the US.
These tensions have been exacerbated over the past year by a series of attacks carried out by individuals who claim to be motivated by radical Islam, and in some cases swear allegiance to ISIS.
Trump has repeatedly seized on these moments to question the loyalty of all Muslims. He did so as recently as the second presidential debate, when a Muslim woman asked Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton: “With Islamophobia on the rise, how will you help people like me deal with the consequences of being labeled as a threat to the country after the election is over?”
Trump responded by calling for “extreme vetting” — and for Muslims to police one another.
“We have to be sure that Muslims come in and report when they see something going on. When they see hatred going on, they have to report it,” he said.
Clinton told the woman: “I’ve heard this question from a lot of Muslim Americans across our country because unfortunately, there’s been a lot of very divisive, dark things said about Muslims.”
The two candidates meet again Wednesday in Las Vegas for their final debate.
Hate crimes against Muslims appear to be on the rise — researchers at California State University found that they were up 78% in 2015.
Hina Ansari, an American-born Muslim woman who lives in Woodbridge, Virginia, told CNN that she found Trump’s rhetoric about immigrants “terrifying.”
“I’m imagining internment camps for all of us if Trump won the election,” said Ansari, who supported Bernie Sanders during the primaries and now backs Clinton. “The way that he talks, the hate speech that he uses, that he brings people towards him — it’s scary to know that so many people who seem like perfectly reasonable people that I know support him.”
Concern has become a catalyst for action. Immigration advocates across the country have launched local and statewide voter registration campaigns, including efforts aimed at bringing into the fold first-time Muslim voters.
Those votes will become increasingly important. Muslims make up a small slice the country — the Pew Research Center estimates that there were about 3.3 million Muslims in the US last year — but by 2050, Muslims are expected to make up 2% of the country’s total population.
Amin Shehadeh, a 47-year-old Palestinian American who has been a US citizen since 1996, will vote for the first time in his life this November for Clinton.
“Because I don’t like Trump,” Shehadeh said. “This year, my daughter, she make the registration.”
Hundreds of worshippers have filed into the Dar Alnoor mosque in Manassas, Virginia, for Friday midday prayers. Imam Sulaiman Jalloh speaks with urgency, pleading with his congregation to take action: Come November, he says, everyone must get out and vote.
“Today, some people say, ‘You and I have no right to be here.’ That although this nation was founded on freedom of religion, your religion and mine is not welcome here,'” Jalloh says. “My dear respected brothers and sisters: This time, I believe none of us has the option to just sit home.”
There is little doubt that the Imam is referring to Trump’s rhetoric during this campaign.
Many Muslims in Northern Virginia whom CNN interviewed said they are obsessively following the election. In places of worship, community centers and schools — both in private conversations and in public — Muslims of all backgrounds worry about the toll the campaign is taking.
Even children are not immune.
At the ADAMS Center’s Radiant Hearts Academy in Sterling, Virginia, where preschoolers to second graders are taught a curriculum centered on Islamic values, teachers and parents are grappling with how to explain the election to children.
“You can’t really hide it, you know? If it’s in the news and your parents are watching the news, it’ll come up and the word ‘Muslim’ will come up,” says Hurunnessa Fariad, the school’s vice principal.
Originally from Uzbekistan, Fariad moved to the US when she was little and now has four daughters.
“You have to constantly tell your children, ‘No, we’re not going anywhere. We’re here, you know, we haven’t done anything wrong,'” she tells CNN. (Fariad doesn’t want to share who she will vote for in November, only saying: “It’s obvious.”)
Sadia Naureen is a 16-year-old resident of Falls Church whose family is from Pakistan. Naureen says she has heard multiple stories about Muslims getting attacked and women choosing to take off their hijabs. She no longer feels safe walking alone.
Naureen blames Trump for making her fear for her safety.
“He should know that the stuff he’s saying is really affecting people. It’s not just words anymore to get votes — it’s going to change people’s lives for the worse,” Naureen tells CNN.
Dar Al-Hijrah, where Naureen’s family worships, felt shaken in November when a man left a fake explosive device at the mosque. Months later, a sign in the lobby cautions that in light of the shooting of an Imam in New York City, Dar Al-Hijrah’s security is monitoring all suspicious activity.
Although she is not old enough to vote, Naureen is an avid Clinton supporter and is working with an immigrant rights group to encourage people to register to vote.
The US Council of Muslim Organizations, one of many groups involved in voter registration efforts this year, said as of last month, it had helped an estimated 500,000 Muslim Americans register to vote this cycle.
The influx of new Muslim voters — many of whom are turned off by Trump’s message this year — along with anecdotal evidence of Republican-voting or independent Muslims turning their backs on the party this year, could haunt the Republican Party far beyond 2016.
David Ramadan, a former member of the Virginia House of Delegates and an Arab-American who comes from a Muslim family, suspended his membership with the Republican Party when Trump became the presumptive nominee.
“I was absolutely distraught and offended that my party, the party of Reagan, the party of Lincoln, the true big tent that aspired for a great America, has today nominated a candidate who is a bigot, racist, demagogue,” Ramadan says in an interview at his home in Dulles, Virginia.
Born and raised in Lebanon and a life-long supporter of the GOP, Ramadan doesn’t yet know what he will do after the election. He predicts that the political views that take hold among ethnic minorities this year will far outlast the 2016 election.
“They’re saying, ‘What happened here? We need to be more involved so that we don’t see this rhetoric again,'” Ramadan says.
Da’in Johnson, one of the worshippers at Dar Alnoor who works for the Department of Labor, says the silver lining for Muslims in the 2016 election is that the community is being forced to “step up our game.” Part of that effort, Johnson says, is making clear to political candidates that no Muslim vote should be taken for granted.
“I think that no reasonable-thinking Muslim likes or agrees with what Donald Trump is saying,” Johnson, 55, says. “But it’s not a lock step for the Democratic nominee.”
For rest of the story, click here.
Source: Wall Street Journal – September 12, 2016 – By BETH REINHARD
MANASSAS, Va.—Corey Stewart had visited the Dar Al-Noor mosque many times as chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, but never as the leader of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in Virginia.
“As-salamu alaykum,” he said Monday morning, greeting hundreds of Muslims on the holiday of Eid al-Adha, marking the end of the yearly pilgrimage to Mecca. “This is kind of an awkward position that I’m in.”
He didn’t need to explain. Mr. Trump’s proposed ban on Muslim immigrants has provoked widespread outrage and potentially unprecedented interest in the presidential election by the fast-growing Muslim community.
Muslims make up only about 1% of the U.S. population, according to the Pew Research Center. But the community is concentrated in several large swing states that could influence the November election, including Virginia, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida.
“I have never seen an election cycle this divisive, where Americans are being turned against each other,” Rafi Uddin Ahmed, the mosque’s former president, told the room full of male worshipers. “This is not the America that you know. We need to make sure we are active, every election, but especially this one.”
The U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations, the largest coalition of national and local Muslim groups, aims to register one million voters by the Nov. 8 election.
It declared Monday as “National Muslim Voter Registration Day,” with mosques all over the U.S. hosting voter-registration tables as worshipers streamed in to celebrate the holiday. The Council on American-Islamic Relations estimates 300,000 Muslims have registered to vote since 2012.
In a rare reproach of the GOP nominee by one of his surrogates, Mr. Stewart told the audience at the mosque that he disagreed with Mr. Trump’s position on Muslim immigrants. Still, he said, the only way to agree completely with a candidate is to personally run for office.
“There was no sense in trying to paper over it,” Mr. Stewart, who is running for governor, said later to reporters.
Some Muslim leaders caution that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton shouldn’t take their support for granted, pointing to her support as a U.S. senator in favor of the war in Iraq.
State Sen. Jeremy McPike, a Democrat, spoke on Mrs. Clinton’s behalf at the mosque on Monday. He noted that as first lady, she hosted the first Ramadan celebration dinner at the White House in 1996. Her running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine, attended the mosque’s 2007 dedication when he was governor. She has denounced Mr. Trump’s call for a temporary ban on Muslim immigrants.
“The dialogue that you’ve heard this year is based on Islamophobia,” Mr. McPike said. “We’ve got to dig in as a people to show that our values are greater than that divisive rhetoric.”
Among those who filled out a registration form was Saidu Sesay, 25 years old, who works with disabled people. “We are good people in the community,’” said Mr. Sesay, whose family fled the civil war in Sierra Leone. “We are citizens like everyone else.”
Shafiuddin Ahmed, 42, filled out the same paperwork while his 12-year-old twin boys waited patiently. “Trump is going to kick all the Muslims out,” said one son, Sarim. “That’s bad.”
The Republican nominee has changed his focus in recent months from blocking Muslims from entering the U.S. to newcomers from countries rife with terrorism, but he has never officially abandoned his position on Muslim immigration.
His statement “calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on” remains on his campaign website.
Sheryar Khan, 40, a real estate consultant who picked up a registration form at the mosque, said he would probably vote for Mrs. Clinton. But he cited her public-policy experience, not Mr. Trump’s immigration policy.
“I’m educated. I could go wherever I want,” said Mr. Khan, who moved to the U.S. from Pakistan and has been a citizen since 2009.
Muslim leaders say the community has been less politically engaged than other religious groups, in part because of the distrust and discrimination that followed the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Only 60% of Muslims are registered to vote, compared with a combined 86% of Jews, Catholics and Protestants, according to a study by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding.
“People don’t want to put their name on things for fear they will be targeted,” said Ehsan Islam, president of the Muslim Association of Virginia.
Emerging as a hero in the Muslim community during this election year is Khizr Khan, a Muslim attorney and father of a U.S. Army captain killed in Iraq, who condemned Mr. Trump at the Democratic National Convention.
In a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Khan said he is trying to keep a low profile since his convention speech touched off a public spat with Mr. Trump. Mr. Khan spoke at the annual festival celebrating Pakistani independence in Centreville, Va., in August and at the Islamic Society of North America conference in Chicago earlier this month.
At the conference attended by thousands of Muslims, he urged the audience to vote “regardless of issues, where you stand,” Mr. Khan added: “Let your voice be heard, so that tomorrow, our future generations, our children, don’t have to hear this ugly political rhetoric that we have heard.”
Mr. Khan, who is scheduled to speak to other Muslim groups this fall, didn’t name Mr. Trump.
Source: The Muslim Link
By Hena Zuberi
With 90 days left to Election 2016, the big question is what do American Muslims stand for? A platform with issues that Muslims can unite around and Muslim organizations can endorse and a plan of action was the result of the 2nd National Summit of American Muslim Leaders that was held in Sterling, Virginia under the umbrella of the United State Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO).
‘We are not scared of Trump’- Muslim leaders from around the country echoed the statement. “Trump did an excellent favor to Muslims- put us on the national stage,” said Oussama Jammal, Secretary General of USCMO, as he presented the day’s agenda.
These resolutions: to host a drive to register one million voters prior to the 2016 presidential election, a “One America” campaign to enhance understanding of American Muslims and Islam and a “National Open Mosque Day” on October 23, 2016 to help increase interactions and understanding between American Muslims and people of other faiths, were adopted at the first National Leadership Summit held in December, 2015.
Another day of planning and exchange of concerns and strategies followed on July 27, 2016.
Linda Sarsour, of Brooklyn, NY, co-founder of MPower Change, was concerned about grassroots organizing for the elections. “What does our plan look like what states are we going to be in, what is the focus, how many mosques?” she asked.
A decision was made to create an appropriate structure to implement One Million Voter Registration campaign with committees at central, state, and local levels.
“We are excited to move forward with the strategies we discussed for the next phase of One America Campaign and get the community mobilized for the 2016 elections,” stated Jammal.
“Politicians, cannot take us for granted, we have asks —some long term and some immediate,” said Jammal. “Hillary [Clinton] can not take the Muslim vote for granted,” he added.
Black Lives Matter, police brutality, gun violence, climate change, a humane refugee policy, comprehensive immigration reform, civil rights and liberties and economic and racial justice were discussed and dissected. There was discussions on the framing and adoption of actual issues that affect communities rather than reactionary strategies that don’t reflect the majority of the American Muslim population.
A tight focus on domestic and foreign policy, addressing Countering Violent Extremism initiatives, law enforcement targeting of Muslims, agent provocateurs, transparency and accountability of law enforcement, anti bias training of masajid leaders, staff, and khutbahs addressing intra Muslim racism were points brought up by participants.
“All issues that are placed on the platform must prioritize the interests of the poor and oppressed and explain every position on every issue at to how this helps either or both,” recommended an organization head.
Organizations will be urged to ask members to join the community boards and increase civic engagements at the local and state levels. At the national level resumes of qualified Muslims for various committees and commissions will be gathered so they are easily available during times of nominations.
Lack of empirical data on Muslims was a concern for Suhaib Syed of Houston,TX and for Ghazala Salam of Weston, FL. Salam is the president of the American Muslim Democratic Caucus of Florida.
Hussam Ayloush of Anaheim, CA, Executive Director of CAIR-LA, who led one of the session shared the need of keep foreign policy in focus along with domestic issues as American Muslims are affected by both.
The One America Campaign by USCMO is scheduled for September 11, 2016. “We are requesting all mosques and Muslim organizations in the U.S. to conduct a voter registration drive on Eidul-Adha on September 11, 2016.” Some instructions shared by the Council are practical like notifying the county clerk or county election officer and getting forms and supplies together. The organization urges masajid to invite candidates and elected officials to the Eid prayer, regardless of party affiliation, (candidate lists are available from the county office) and asks the Eid khateebs to give a khutbah related to the campaign.
Marketing material is available on the USCMO website for the One American Campaign that groups can download and print locally. Groups are urged to e-mail USCMO photos and a brief summary of the voter registration drive at email@example.com) so the organization can keep a tally.
Local teams in all states will be forming to conduct or help with voter registration drives, getting out the vote, and plan for the Masjid Open Houses.
The official platform for American Muslims will be released in the upcoming weeks, says USCMO.
Pre Eid Instructions
- Get your group or team together.
- Notify your county clerk or county election officer.
- Get your forms and supplies together.
- Get familiar with the rules.
- Invite candidates and elected officials to the Eid prayer. You can download a candidate list from your county office. Invite all candidates regardless of party affiliation.
- Ask the Eid khateeb to give a khutba related to the campaign. Here is a sample khutba you can use as talking points.
- Download marketing material.
During Eid Instructions
- Arrive Early.
- Set up your table or booth.
- Have a link if you can do wifi.
- Put up signs and have it announced before and after the prayer.
- Register people and have fun!
Post Eid Instructions
- E-mail us your photos and a brief summary of the event (firstname.lastname@example.org) so we can post it on the website.
- Follow-up by the necessary deadlines.
The U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), the largest coalition of leading national and local Muslim organizations, held its 2016 2nd National Summit of American Muslim Leaders on Sunday August 7, 2016 at the Spring Hill Suites Marriott Hotel in Sterling, Virginia. More than 100 Muslim leaders from various states attended the event. The meeting started with short introductions by the leaders of the founding member organizations. Then a report was presented on the current status of the One America Campaign. Finally, this year’s agenda was presented and three groups were formed to discuss the following three issues:
- Strategizing and responding to the increasing incidents of religious and racial violence and bigotry in the United States
- Creating and spreading our own positive narrative and refuting ISIS and Islamophobes narrative on Islam and American Muslims
- Cooperating and amplifying Muslims’ efforts for political empowerment during the 2016 election
The leadership summit emphasized the following three points for all Muslim leadership:
- Organize a National Muslim voter registration day on Eid ul Adha. All campaign material and instructions for it are available our website here.
- October 23 will be a National Open Mosque Day and all mosques are encouraged to participate.
- Get Out The Vote (GOTV) campaign should be organized by local Muslim leadership .
Following is a summary of the ideas that were presented by the three groups:
Strategizing and responding to the increasing incidents of religious and racial violence and bigotry in the United States
- Acknowledgment of the issue
- Need for data
- Engaging mosque to be in action platforms
- Resource center building
- Personal and community outreach for awareness and educating the people.
- Highlighting positive stories about Muslims and their values (e.g. Muslim heroes). Proactive vs reactive.
- Publish unbiased research that exposes ISIS
- Educate, train, and involve the youth in all initiatives
- Fund USCMO
- Compile and publish database of resources and Muslim speakers that speak for mainstream Muslims
- Facilitate open discussions on grievances that feed extremism or resentment
Cooperating and amplifying Muslims’ efforts for political empowerment during the 2016 election
- Civil rights and liberties
- Religious and racial profiling, police reform, etc.
- Economic justice
- Free college tuition, unjust trade policies, national debt, etc.
- Foreign policy
- BDS, non-interventionist foreign policy, demilitarizing foreign aid, etc.
- Comprehension immigration reform and humane refugee policy
- Climate change
- Civil rights and liberties
- Voter Registration
- Create an appropriate structure to implement One Million Voter Registration campaign
- Committee at central, state, and local levels
- Create a database of Muslim voters
- Education of the imams and masjid leaderships
- Sample khutbahs w/ talking points, one page points, response to those who say voting is haram, etc.
- Strategy to reach out to non-masjid going population
- Social media, advertise in Muslim businesses, cultural and religious events (like Muslim Family Day), etc.
- Partner up and work with other organizations that are doing voter registration campaigns
- Providing transportation for those who cannot go out to vote
- Create an appropriate structure to implement One Million Voter Registration campaign
- Swing State
- Emphasize and educate the importance of minority votes in swing states
- Focus on swing district races for congress in addition to the presidential
- Host a candidates forum sponsored by Muslim organizations
- Reallocate from non-swing states to swing states
- Set up meetings with the candidates and the State party leadership
- Use Muslim and other minority media to convey our platform
- Diversity in advertisements
- Using MSAs and other youth groups to get the Muslim youth involved in the political process
- Writing op-eds in mainstream media explaining and clarifying our platform