The 30,000 Muslims who will meet in Columbus this weekend will learn about the issues of the upcoming presidential election and how to get more involved in politics.

A highlight of the 45th annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America is expected to be the appearance of Democratic Reps. Keith Ellison and Andre Carson, the country’s first Muslim congressmen.

Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain both have agreed to send representatives from their campaigns to the convention, said Ingrid Mattson, president of the society.

Mattson senses some disillusionment among Muslims about this election, she said. At times, they’ve felt neglected by the candidates, and hurt that the false rumor that Obama is a Muslim is perceived as an insult.

“We want to get Muslim-Americans excited again about the importance of their participation and the importance of their voice,” Mattson said.

To do that, the congressmen will tell their stories of political advocacy as the programs equip Muslims with the know-how to vote, establish dialogue with elected officials and form political-action committees.

The convention is happening just before Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, which begins Monday. . .

The convention won’t be all politics.

Separate panels will focus on Muslim/Christian and Muslim/Jewish relations, and the Rev. Michael Kinnamon, general secretary of the National Council of Churches, is to appear in the former.

An Interfaith Unity Reception will include about 100 Muslim leaders and 300 people of other faiths to celebrate mutual cooperation, Elsanousi said. (MORE)


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