Interview: CAIR Seeks to Boost Muslim Political Involvement


McCaw is the government affairs coordinator for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a nonprofit that seeks to empower the roughly 7 million Muslims in the United States and enhance Americans' understanding of the Islamic faith.
How do you help increase Americans' understanding of Islam?
We have a number of initiatives, including our Koran campaign, in which we hand out free Korans to community leaders and politicians, as well as religious leaders and local city councilmen and women. We also have a library program where we give a package of books to libraries that request information on Islam, from the Koran to "Islam for Dummies."
What is one of the biggest challenges facing American Muslims today?
American Muslims feel they are only being looked at through the prism of national security and not being realized as contributors to society. ... It also might surprise some people to learn that the top five election issues to Muslim Americans in 2008 were education, civil rights, health care policy, jobs and the economy, and lastly, U.S. relations with the Muslim world.
Are you doing anything to get Muslim Americans involved in the 2012 election?
We recently launched a "Muslims Vote" campaign, which seeks to increase American Muslim communities' impact on the 2012 election cycle. The campaign is focused on engaging Muslim American volunteers in the campaigns, and we are trying to register as many Muslim Americans to vote as we can through our website.
Do Muslim Americans generally have an overriding political preference?
In polls of American Muslim voters, political preferences were 38 percent moderate, 29 percent liberal and 25 percent conservative. This is shifting, because in 2001, 70 percent of American Muslims voted for George W. Bush. This shows that Muslim Americans are as conservative as they are liberal, and they are willing to vote either way.(More)