News / USA

Muslim Americans Urge Community Members to Vote in Upcoming Election

Multimedia

Representatives Keith Ellison from Minnesota and Andre Carson from Indiana are currently the only Muslim American members of Congress. But they represent a growing segment of the U.S. population that is often in the spotlight as a result of racial profiling and religious intolerance.

In an effort to seek better representation in Washington, many Muslim American communities across the country are organizing voting drives to ensure those that can vote, have their voices heard in the upcoming midtern elections.  

It is a cool and unusually windy evening in the suburban Chicago community of Bridgeview.

Not far from the local mosque, which towers over the homes in this predominately Muslim-American neighborhood, Kuwaiti-born Palestinian Alaa is knocking on doors.

With the November 2 mid term election just days away, Alaa is trying to make sure those who can, vote.

Voting is a right not extended to Alaa. "By 1993 we came to the United States on a visa, I was seven years old, I had no idea what was going on at that age, the visa expired, and we stayed.  And we've been here ever since 1993," she said.

Alaa is one of an estimated ten million undocumented immigrants living illegally in the United States. Because she is not a U.S. citizen, she does not have the right to vote, which fuels her efforts to make sure those who can, exercise that right. "With citizenship comes responsibility, and I feel that it's very important that we get that out to the Muslim community so they go out and vote," she said.

On the streets, and on the phone.

Maryam Al-Zoubi of the New American Democracy Project, or NADP, works side by side with Alaa to get out the Muslim-American vote. "I think that voting helps our other neighbors and our other government officials realize that yes, we are Americans, and the xenophobia we have towards Muslims is incorrect," she said.

Al Zoubi says immigration reform is one issue among many concerns she hears about from registered voters she meets in the Muslim American community. "There are a lot of issues that the Muslim community wants to be heard about - for example Islamaphobia, religious tolerance, racial profiling.  What we do is we try to tell our elected officials why we vote, but in a very non-partisan way because we want all our elected officials to respect us and to stand with us."

In the nearby community of Summit on Chicago's Southwest side, Reema Ahmad goes one step further. "We are distributing endorsement cards, laying out candidates out who have specifically asked for the support of the Muslim community, have committed themselves to supporting initiatives on behalf of the Muslim community when they are elected to office so we are really bridging that gap," Ahmad said.

Ahmad is the Director of the recently formed Project Mobilize, which has a goal of eventually fielding Muslim American candidates for office. "This is really the next logical step towards us fulfilling our political aspirations. It's about developing that potential, ensuring that people who have aspirations to hold public office know how to get into those positions and garner the support they need," Ahmad said.

But Gerald Ahnkerson with the Council on American Islamic Relations in Chicago says many in the Muslim American community remain divided on the impact of their vote. "Even with the election cycle there is much argument and debate whether Muslims should be involved.   One way or another we are living here, and our life is being impacted by whether or not we decide to offer our voice and our balance.  So most definitely religion may factor into it on certain issues, such as immigration reform, such as protecting first amendment rights, because we definitely want to see that our faith is not impeded for us to be truly considered Americans," he said.

There are approximately half a million Muslim Americans living in the greater Chicago area. In the city's upcoming elections in 2011, one Muslim American candidate is on the ballot. Ahmed Khan is running for Alderman in Chicago's 50th Ward.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid