South Florida's Muslims have decided it's time to raise their profile.
For the first time, Muslim leaders from Broward, Palm Beach and other southern Florida counties will gather for a summit that will allow them to socialize, share safety concerns and find ways to make their voices heard in local civic life. Muslims from Miami, Homestead, Key West, Fort Myers and Naples are expected to be among those who attend.
Twenty-eight Muslim leaders are expected for the brunch meeting today at Pembroke Lakes Country Club in Pembroke Pines. The leaders will fill out a survey that will answer questions about their mosques, their schools, their interfaith activities and voter registration drives. The meeting, organized by the local branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, is intended to motivate Muslims to increase their participation in public life.
"We are encouraging people to get more involved in their communities," said Altaf Ali, CAIR's executive director for Florida. "This is a good time for the leaders to express if they feel isolated."
Ali plans to send the representatives home with a census to distribute to their congregants, with questions such as: How many people live in your house? What is your profession and your income? Do you usually vote Democratic or Republican? Who is your presidential pick?
He wants the questions returned before November's elections to get a better understanding of how many Muslims live in South Florida and what their political leanings are.
CAIR's headquarters in Washington, D.C., called the meeting "a pioneering effort." Spokesman Ahmed Rehab said he has not heard of similar meetings in other parts of the United States.
"It will help us better gauge our civic engagement," he said. (MORE)