According to a survey last year by the Pew Research Center, most U.S. Muslims believe peace between Israel and the Palestinians is possible.
They do not support suicide bombing or al-Qaida, affirm that hard work yields reward, agree the government should take an active role in the protection of common morality, and see no real conflict between devout faith and living a viable social life.
They are concerned about the rise of Islamist extremism within the borders and elsewhere, and don’t think the U.S. has handled the war against terrorism quite correctly.
U.S. Muslims closely mirror the general population in terms of education and income, and tend to describe themselves as satisfied with their lives here, whether native-born or immigrant. In general terms, their appreciation of life in the United States appears quite positive.
Two characteristics of their population should attract the attention of politicians. One is that they tend to be younger than the general population: 87 percent of respondents in Pew’s sample were younger than 55 years old, compared to an estimated 70 percent of all U.S. residents.
The other is that they tend to register as Democrats, describe themselves as moderates or liberals, and favor an activist government. All these are counter to the political identifications and sensibilities of most evangelical Christians.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations has taken note not only of these statistical distinctions, but of a trend toward political interest as Muslims are swept along in the gathering prelude to Election Day, still nine months away.
CAIR offers enough material and resources online to keep the most obsessively politically inclined person, let alone such a Muslim, busy.
Its Web site offers voter guides from the council and the Muslim Public Affairs Council, a catalogue of downloadable statements of condemnation against Islamist terrorism, news, statements of position and questionnaire responses by presidential candidates, and a list of Muslim candidates for office.
This year two, from Indiana and Virginia, seek to join Minnesota’s Keith Ellison in the U.S. House.
Opinion pieces by CAIR staff members recount successful campaigns to register and mobilize voters in 2004 and 2006, and exhort Muslim voters to greater achievement this year.
Still, Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR’s director of communications, is circumspect: “It should be clear to any candidate,” he writes, “that American Muslims are a key group of voters who defy simplistic labeling and maintain an independent streak that should be taken into account by all those running for public office.” (MORE)