Bridgeview, Illinois - US Muslims have embarked on a vast drive get the
community registered to vote in the presidential election to build what
could be a potentially powerful voice in deciding the winner.
The war on terror launched by President George W. Bush after the September
11, 2001 attacks has antagonised huge numbers of the estimated six million
Concerns about US foreign policy in the Middle East have been replaced with
concerns about their own civil rights among Muslim leaders who are now
seeking to get as many people registered as possible.
"I got another one," crowed Anam El-Jabali, waving her clipboard in victory
as she emerged from a mosque here to compare notes with two other volunteers.
"He's Palestinian. He's lived here for 40 years, and he's never voted, but
he'll vote on November 2."
It was quite an accomplishment, noted the Palestinian-American mother of five.
"The old men are the hardest," to sign up, she explained. "They've lived
here forever, but they feel hopeless. They just want to keep a low profile,
and keep out of trouble."
Voter registration drives, like this one at the Bridgeview Mosque
Foundation in suburban Chicago, have been the order of the day at mosques
and Islamic centers across the nation in the past couple of months.
Muslim groups say the outreach effort has been unprecedented in size and
scope, although they are still waiting on hard figures that would show
exactly how successful they have been.
The likely beneficiary will be Democratic challenger, Massachusetts Senator
John Kerry, although The American Muslim Task Force on Elections, an
umbrella group bringing together nine US Muslim groups, has held off
endorsing any one candidate.
The panel is seeking iron-clad promises on political appointees among other
things before it delivers what it expects will be a Muslim bloc vote..