CA: Muslims Work Around Prejudice in Politics


Shahed Amanullah registered the domain name for MuslimsForObama.com more than a year ago. But he has waited to develop it as he saw Muslim identity being smeared, his belief system used for political attack.

Some prominent preachers, pundits and others involved in the election, particularly Republican supporters of Sen. John McCain, have declared Islam "an anti-Christ religion" and claimed that "Muslims want to kill us."

Now, the UC Berkeley grad has decided that the site cannot indicate that Barack Obama supports issues important to Muslims specifically because it might boomerang. Instead, the site will be devoted to encouraging voter registration and turnout at the polls.

"Yes, it's insulting, and yes, it hurts, but at this point, we have to look at the bigger picture," said Amanullah, who ran MuslimsForKerry.com in 2004 and is on the board of the nonpartisan Muslim Public Service Network, which has put hundreds of young American Muslims in internships in Washington to encourage civic participation. "Let's work around the bigots on the Web to get our work done."

The role of Muslims has been particularly inflammatory this year. Supporters of both Sen. John McCain and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton have sought to scandalize Obama's middle name, Hussein, or the four years he spent in Indonesia, a predominantly Muslim nation. The assertions have been used to suggest that Obama is a terrorist sympathizer.

The changed goals of MuslimsForObama.com are part of a trend in which American Muslims feel forced to develop nuanced and, by their own admission, humiliating strategies to remain involved in a political process that has marginalized them. The narrowing of ambitions for this political season is not just a reflection of the peculiarities of this election, which features a candidate personally familiar with the Muslim world. It also marks a dramatic reversal of political gains Muslims thought they'd made prior to Sept. 11, 2001. (MORE)

 


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