Washington Muslims are Urged to Vote



Jafar Siddiqui's frustration and anger over politics reached an all-time
high about three weeks ago. That's when the Seattle real-estate agent and
his friends decided it was time to do something.

Siddiqui and other members of the local Muslim community blanketed their
relatives, friends and acquaintances with information about the importance
of voting in this year's elections. They hosted a three-hour meeting at
Town Hall Seattle last night and invited local politicians and Muslim
leaders to speak.

"We are here because each of us is an ambassador and an activist," Siddiqui
told the crowd of about 500. "We're here because we're tired of being
kicked around by the Bush administration," which he accused of unfairly
targeting Muslims in the war on terror.

U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Seattle, King County Executive Ron Sims and Army
Capt. James Yee, a Muslim chaplain who was accused of espionage and jailed
for 76 days before all charges were dropped, were among those who spoke out
against the war in Iraq and President Bush. They also begged the audience
to vote.

"We are in the midst of the most important election in our history,"
McDermott said. "It's the first time I've been afraid in a very long time."

McDermott said he's not fearful of terrorism but fears "my own government's
use of the Patriot Act," the law passed by Congress after the Sept. 11,
2001 attacks that gives the government broad new powers to fight terrorism.

"Bullets and bombs will never be the way to solve the problems in the
world," McDermott said to the cheering audience. "The way to show you're
not afraid is to show up with a ballot in your hand. Do it..."

Jamil Abdul Razzaq said when he moved to Seattle in 1956, there were few
Muslims in the area. He said there are now 50,000 Muslims and 14 mosques in
the region.

"We are American citizens, and we have rights like anybody else," Razzaq
told the crowd. "We don't want to control the world. We have to be leaders,
not followers."

 


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