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    Bob Bennett spent his last days letting Muslims know how sorry he was that an Islamophobe had become his party’s all-but-certain nominee.

    Former GOP senator Bob Bennett lay partially paralyzed in his bed on the fourth floor of the George Washington University Hospital. He was dying.

    Not 48 hours had passed since a stroke had complicated his yearlong fight against pancreatic cancer. The cancer had begun to spread again, necessitating further chemotherapy. The stroke had dealt a further blow that threatened to finish him off.

    Between the hectic helter-skelter of nurses, doctors, and well wishes from a long-cultivated community of friends and former aides, Bennett faced a quiet moment with his son Jim and his wife Joyce.


    by america in info, Latest News
    Source: NY Times – June 1, 2016

    OAKLAND, Calif. — After Friday Prayer at the Oakland Islamic Center, Mamoun Kund, a 51-year-old Sudanese-American, sat at a table and did something he had not done in the 11 years he has been a citizen: He registered to vote. Until recently, he had no interest, he said, but now “I hear talk about Muslims, Hispanics and women.”

    “It doesn’t make sense,” he added. “Americans aren’t like that.”

    Upstairs in the area for women, Dina Agag, who wore a bright red head scarf, picked up voter registration forms for herself and five members of her family. As she did, a friend whispered, “This is the most important vote in our life.”

    These are unsettling times for many American Muslims. “People are losing their sleep,” said Naeem Baig, the president of the Islamic Circle of North America. “The political environment is creating a divide in America” by race, language, gender and religion.

    But it has also had an unintended consequence: galvanizing Muslims to vote.

    In late December — after the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., and the call by Donald J. Trump, now the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” — the United States Council of Muslim Organizations, a national umbrella group, announced plans to register a million voters.

    “When your existence in society is in danger, you try to mobilize your community,” said the organization’s secretary general, Oussama Jammal. “You have to be part of the entire society.”

    While the effort is mostly geared toward the November election, groups here have made a push to register Muslims in time for the state primary on Tuesday. Drives were held on a recent Friday at 21 mosques and Islamic centers in the Bay Area and Sacramento and at seven places in the Los Angeles area.

    “Muslims are a big campaign issue, as big as the climate, the economy and immigration. We’re spoken about as if we’re not there,” said Rusha Latif, an organizer of the Rock the Muslim Vote campaign. “We want to amplify our voices.”

    For organizers, the time is ripe for registration.

    “It’s hard to encourage people to participate based on good things happening,” said Melissa Michelson, an author of “Mobilizing Inclusion: Transforming the Electorate Through Get-Out-the-Vote Campaigns” and a professor at Menlo College. “Fear and threats are much more powerful motivators.”

    As the general election approaches, Muslim organizations will pay particular attention to swing states, where “several thousand voters have the ability to tip the elections,” said Robert S. McCaw, the director of the government affairs department at the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

    Muslims make up about 1 percent of the United States population. A study conducted by the Institute for Social and Policy Understanding, a nonpartisan think tank, found that only 60 percent of citizens who are Muslim were registered voters, compared with at least 86 percent of Jews, Protestants and Roman Catholics.

    “A lot of Muslims didn’t participate in elections because they didn’t see a lot of difference between the parties,” said Emir Sundiata Alrashid of the Lighthouse Mosque in Oakland, where a voter-registration drive was held last month. The mosque sits in a residential neighborhood near a freeway overpass.

    Jehan Hakim set up a table for voter registration during a service last month at the Oakland Islamic Center.

    About a dozen mosques serve Oakland’s diverse population. On the streets near the larger mosques and Islamic centers, women in hijabs and burqas duck into shops for halal meats, dates and honey.

    Rodolfo de La Garza, a professor of public policy at Columbia University who studies minority voting and election participation, said he believed Muslim voter registration efforts would be easier than those in African-American and Latino communities, where residents were long disenfranchised.

    “If you think the state is always against you, why would you engage it?” he said. “Only recently have Muslims not trusted the state. It should be a lot easier to get them to register to vote.”

    Representative Keith Ellison, Democrat of Minnesota and one of two Muslims in the House of Representatives, said he had seen anti-Muslim speech “every election cycle.”

    But this year, the bigotry has reached a new level, he said.

    Mr. Ellison cited a Georgetown University study, “When Islamophobia Turns Violent: The 2016 U.S. Presidential Elections,” which found that in December, when Mr. Trump called for barring Muslims, there were 53 anti-Muslim attacks nationwide, a third of all attacks last year.

    “The average Muslim is a little desensitized to politicians’ making negative comments about us,” said Corey Saylor, the director of the department to monitor and combat Islamophobia at the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “This time it’s so pervasive and mainstream and, frankly, threatening that a lot of people feel the need to do whatever they can.”

    Jehan Hakim, California president of the American Association of Yemeni Students and Professionals, said, “So many family and community members are really, really scared.” Ms. Hakim, who organized mosque voter registration drives in Oakland, said her four children wanted to move to Canada. Along with signing up new voters, Ms. Hakim also participates in “Meet a Muslim,” a Bay Area gathering for non-Muslims to learn about their neighbors.

    The change in tone has been gradual. After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, “the conversation in the mainstream media was that American Muslims are part of America — we’re in this trouble together,” said Mr. Baig of the Islamic Circle of North America.

    But after the San Bernardino shootings, Mr. Trump called for closing mosques and barring Muslims. (He recently amended his statement, saying it was “just a suggestion.”)

    “People coming to his rallies are cheering what he says,” Mr. Baig said. “We are beyond a state of shock.”

    Mr. Trump’s campaign spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment.

    Emir Alrashid of the Lighthouse Mosque said he saw parallels with a once-targeted group. “We’re going through the same struggles the Japanese did about their loyalty to the country after Pearl Harbor,” he said. “Just because you share an ethnic group or religion, you shouldn’t have to pass a loyalty oath to be considered a loyal American.”

    The Lighthouse Mosque draws followers who are African-American, South Asian, Yemeni and Caucasian.

    In interviews, many Muslims volunteered that they felt as if they were an “other” in their own country. “People might be born in America, but they feel like a lot of times they’re looked at like ‘other,’ ” Emir Alrashid said, adding that he sometimes felt that way, too. He was born in the United States and served six years in the Marine Corps.

    “People see a Muslim sister at a grocery store, and they don’t think she’s an American citizen. They automatically seem to think she’s ‘one of those Muslims,’ even here in the Bay Area,” he said. “I can only imagine how it is in Utah or Mississippi.”


    By Javeria Salman

    The US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO) recently launched a new initiative “One America Campaign” to unite the Muslim American voice and encourage the Muslim community to get involved in civic engagement.

    The initiative is meant to empower the Muslim American community by getting one million voters registered to vote during the upcoming 2016 presidential elections.

    As part of the campaign, USCMO will organize three national events, a national community Ramadan iftar on June 18, a national voter registration day September 27, and national open mosque day on October 23.

    “One America Campaign is a campaign to unite all Americans against bigotry and xenophobia,” said Naeem Baig, president of Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA). “In this election year some politicians are trying to create divisions among the American public but we aim to build bridges among all Americans.”

    Oussama Jammal, Secretary General of USCMO said the campaign came about following the “attacks in Europe and especially San Bernardino and then the extreme Islamophobic rhetoric that was coming out in the public and political discourse, we saw that there is an immediate need to respond.”

    He added, “One of the biggest and most important responses that we can do is to get active politically. As a 501c3, we cannot tell people who to vote for and who not to but we can certainly ask people to get involved in the political process.”

    baltimore2016yUSCMO launched the campaign with the first ever town hall meeting focused on civic engagement and what the Muslim communities can do for the 2016 election at the 41st annual ICNA-Muslim American Society (MAS) convention over Memorial Day weekend in Baltimore, Maryland.

    Zahid Bukhari, Executive Director of ICNA Council for Social Justice, said the town hall meeting gives people a chance to see what’s going on at the ground level among Muslim communities this election cycle.

    “It’s just more on a practical level, what’s going on, what should be going on, what are the do’s and don’ts of doing voter registration, or asking Muslims to get involved, and how to interact with the elected officials, how to interact with the system,” said Bukhari.

    “We thought about what we should do collectively for Muslims to re-narrate their own message and their own image,” Bukhari.

    Robert McCaw, the director of the government affairs department at the Council on American-Islamic Affairs (CAIR), who lead the town hall meeting, said the Muslim community is faced with two considerable challenges this election season.

    “We have to unite the most diversified religious community in this country as one block of voters that can express our joint, shared intersectional concerns,” said McCaw. “And we also have to engage with elected or want to be elected officials who are proposing policies that may be to our benefit or to our detriment.”

    McCaw added this campaign is about engaging in the political process at the local, state and federal level.

    During the town hall meeting, audience members not only heard from a few of the representatives of the organizations in USCMO but also several community leaders from New York, Virginia and Maryland.

    The panelists presented what their local Muslim communities are doing during the election and what are some ways to get Muslim communities across the nation actively participating this election cycle.

    McCaw said CAIR, a founding member of USCMO along with ICNA and MAS, is actively engaged in bringing together the One America Campaign along with the other UCSMO members.

    He added that CAIR chapters across the country are coordinating with other USCMO partner organizations to make sure the campaign is effective at every level.

    McCaw said the “overall goal” of the One America Campaign is also to coordinate with the broader non-Muslim community.

    “It’s not just registering Muslims, it’s making sure that our intersectional community allies, our minority community allies, that they are getting registered,” said McCaw. “Because really their issues are our issues when it comes to major policy.”

    Sam Rasoul, the first Muslim member of the Virginia House of Delegates of the 11th District was also present for the launch of the campaign.

    “With regards to civic involvement any opportunity we have to get the community more involved I’m very excited about,” said Rasoul. “We need to bring it back to what voting and civic duty does for you as an individual. It’s not important to go vote so that someone can get elected, it’s important to go vote because that’s important for you, that’s your civic duty.”

    Rasoul added that it is important to be involved in public policy for the individual’s sake.

    “We [Muslims] need to build our own capacity that way we can have a critical mass of folks to help to impact public policy,” said Rasoul.

    Bukhari added, “We like to be counted, we like to have some impact in the public policy. Muslims should not be feared, Muslims should be respected and the Muslim voice should be heard.”

    There was also a booth set up at the convention center to hand out free posters, flyers, pins, caps, and postcards regarding the campaign. It was set up right across the registration section so that it can be easily recognized by the attendees. The booth also included voter registration forms from various states for people to be able to register to vote at the convention.

    USCMO leadership, during the main session of the program, all walked on to the stage to show solidarity and willingness to work together to fight bigotry and xenophobia.

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