CNN International INSIGHT
11:00 PM EST Oct. 25/04
HEADLINE: The Muslim American Vote
HOSTS: Jonathan Mann, Octavia Nasr
HIGHLIGHT: How will Arab and Muslim American voters impact the upcoming presidential election?
JONATHAN MANN, CNN HOST: Alienated, uneasy and acting on it. Muslim and Arab Americans have been buffeted by events since 9/11. When they go to the polls to elect a president, they’ll be pushing for change.
Hello and welcome.
The numbers are a little unclear, but the broad trend is not. There are
believed to be between 3 and 7 million Muslims in the United States, a
figure that overlaps with the nearly 2 million registered Arab American
voters. Polls suggest Muslims voted overwhelmingly to elect President Bush
in the year 2000 and that this time things will be different. Could it cost
him the election?
On our program today, minority momentum. CNN senior Arab affairs editor
Joining us now to talk about that is Nihad Awad, executive director of the
Council on American Islamic Relations.
Thanks so much for being with us.
There are millions of Muslim Americans in this country. Why don’t the
political institutions of this country, why don’t the rest of us hear more
NIHAD AWAD, COUNCIL ON AMERICAN ISLAMIC RELATIONS: It is I believe a matter
of time. There are 7 million Muslims in the United States. Many of them are
immigrants. Many of them are becoming more involved in the political
You know, one administration after the other is paying attention to what
Muslims have to say. Are they being included in the decision making? Not
The Muslim organizations who base themselves on political platforms are
just new and therefore the experience, the American Muslim experience, is
fresh, but I think parties and politicians, candidates, are paying
attention, because they can be a critical mass in the elections, especially
in the swing states.
MANN: Let me ask you about that in fact. Where do you think they’re going
to be most important? And do you think that Muslims by and large will vote
all the same way? Strength in numbers?
AWAD: Well, of course, you know, the concentration of American Muslims are
in California, New York, Michigan, Florida and Ohio, including
Pennsylvania. I believe that this year they may hold the margin of victory
in their hands the same way they had it in the year 2000.
In the year 2000 for the first time they formed the American Muslim voting
block and they voted 78 percent for George Bush. George Bush now has lost
most of this support because of certain policies and we have seen in the
previous debate talking about civil rights and foreign policy.
Today I think from the surveys and polls, most American Muslims are
planning to vote for John Kerry. Now what will help American Muslims to
vote together and maintain the voting block they started in the year 2000
is the formation of the coalition or the American Muslim Task Force on
Civil Rights and Election, and that represents I believe the majority of
American Muslims, immigrant Muslims, indigenous Muslims and the second
There is great enthusiasm about this election because how Muslims feel that
what went wrong in the past few years, whether on the domestic level or