Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding


News, June 2010

Al-Jazeerah History


Mission & Name  

Conflict Terminology  


Gaza Holocaust  

Gulf War  




News Photos  

Opinion Editorials

US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)  




Editorial Note: The following news reports are summaries from original sources. They may also include corrections of Arabic names and political terminology. Comments are in parentheses.

American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections: Vision, Mission, & 2010 Election Plan

AMT, June 28, 2010

AMT defines objectives, issues, strategies; sets forth a bottom-up, community- based decision-making process

The American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections (AMT), an umbrella organization representing American Muslim Alliance (AMA), American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), Muslim Alliance of North America (MANA), Muslim American Society - Freedom (MAS-F), Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA), Muslim Ummah of North America (MUNA), Muslim Student Association - National (MSA-N), North American Imams Federation (NAIF), and United Muslims of America (UMA), operates as much as a movement as it does as a coalition.

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere".
Mission and Objectives
Our four main objectives are to: 1) become full partners in the defense, development and prosperity of our homeland, the United States, 2) defend civil and human rights of all, 3) mainstream the American Muslim community, and 4) develop alliances with like-minded fellow Americans on a wide variety of social, political, economic and moral issues.
Election efforts will focus on a "Civil Rights Plus" agenda. By this we mean that 'the civil rights for all' is the main issue but not the only issue. We remain equally committed to education, homelessness, economic recovery, environmental and ecological safety, electoral reform, crime, and global peace and justice. Our 'civil rights plus agenda' is broadly organized under three categories: a) civil and human rights, b) domestic issues of public good and general welfare, c) global peace with justice, prevention of war, and US relations with the Muslim world.
Our overall strategy is premised on the belief that "Our vote is the best guarantee of our civil rights and the best expression of our citizenship". The AMT will organize strategic mobilization of the American Muslim voters at local, state and federal levels, with primary focus on key states and key races. Voter Registration and Voter Education Viewing elections as an opportunity for both self-empowerment and direct participation in discussions about all issues including America's sense of direction and destiny, the AMT shall expend its maximum energy in educating, organizing and mobilizing the American Muslim voters.
AMT:  A Genuinely Grassroots Movement: The Proof is in the Process
As a grassroots movement, AMT conducts Town Hall meetings throughout the two and four-year election cycles. Most recently, AMT has held three town hall meetings (May29 and May 30 @ the ICNA Convention n Connecticut) and on June 13 in Falls Church, Virginia. The June 13 town hall meeting is detailed below:
AMT Town Hall Meeting
By Mariam Abu-Ali Muslim Link Contributing Writer   
Community leaders are working to educate their members on civic engagement, encouraging Muslims to be active and to unite as a community in order to increase their chances of being heard and making a difference. The American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections, a nonpartisan umbrella organization headed by Muhammad Salim Akhtar, scheduled a town hall meeting on Sunday June 13. A panel comprised of well-known Muslim leaders addressed the Political Landscape and Role of Muslim Community in the Elections of 2010.  Held at the Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center, it provided the community with the opportunity to discuss important political matters such as civil liberties and American foreign policy.  Muslim leaders are also working to rally the community for heavy involvement in the coming midterm election, in which the entire House of Representatives as well as one third of the senate will be up for reelection.

Dr. Esam Omeish, who ran for the 35th District of Virginia House of Delegates in 2009, stressed the importance of civic engagement. Dr. Omeish made it clear that the 2010 elections are critical, especially in light of the historic election of president Obama. "His presidency represents a shift in a lot of the policies and there had been unprecedented challenges. When this midterm election comes in, an election which is generally against the party that is in power, people who are disenfranchised will vote against the current party. If the president doesn't have the backing of congress, we will find ourselves in a very difficult place." He recognized that there will always be frustrations, and that we may not see the tail end of good policies and their effectiveness, but he predicted positive outcomes. "[Obama] inherited an economic meltdown, but we are on the path of recovery. The unemployment will hopefully come down...inshallah our future and our children's future is being addressed." He also noted the fact that Obama addressed healthcare "no one has a perfect solution to the problem, but we have to put this in context, the healthcare reform says something about our leadership. Significant foundational issues have been addressed. We had vision and leadership that drove this." Irrespective of party, he urged the community to look at the future of America and the type of policies we want America espousing. "The vote that you cast gives you the right to decide what you want for America."

Corey Saylor, legislative director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), highlighted the tone change in the president's speeches and his attitude towards Muslims from that of his predecessor. President Obama appointed several Muslims including Dalia Mogahed as an advisor on the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and Rashad Hussain as the special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference. When they were attacked by those opposed to their appointments, the White House stood behind them.

Despite the positive rhetoric, he recognized that "changing words does not change the reality on the ground. The extremists use legitimate concerns in the Muslim world, particularly the Palestinian issue, to pull people to their side. If the government starts addressing these issues we will take away that excuse from the extremists. We don't think the government has taken strong steps to do that." Saylor acknowledged that the Israeli raid on the Flotilla headed towards Gaza required a stronger response from the Obama administration.

As for our civil rights and liberties, "the initial hope is now being replaced by questioning: When is the White House going to deliver on those promises?" said Saylor. Attorney General Eric Holder suggested creating an exception to Miranda rights for terror suspects. Saylor expressed concern over talk about targeting American citizens for extra-judicial assassination. "When civil liberties are abused we tend to be the victims," he said.

Nihad Awad, the Executive Director of CAIR, expressed his discontent with the current political reality.  "Although we are hearing a different and positive tone, and hopefully this will translate into less interference and less death, we still see more death, more escalation in fighting, particularly in Afghanistan. That is not the change I was looking for." While on the domestic level, there has been an effort to engage the Muslim community, for Awad "this is not enough. People must speak up their minds; they must not settle and accept the status quo."

All the panelists addressed the continued diatribe against Islam and Muslims, urging the community to combat it and take charge of our image. Imam Shaker Elsayed said that Islamophobia "is a result of people hearing messages louder than ours, not because the Americans are inherently hateful or racist." Awad urged members to become "public Muslims, visible Muslims, proud of who we are, and not compromising on our rights." Ibrahim Ramey, Civil and Human Rights Director of MAS Freedom Foundation, cautioned that if "we don't exercise our political power things will be much worse for us in 2012."

Speakers used other minority communities as examples we can learn from. Saylor and Awad used other minority communities as examples we can learn from. Awad used the example of the Jewish American community. "Fifty years ago they were not where they are today. They recognized that they have a small number of people and made sure that every single member realized the weight of their participation. The Muslim community was initially busy building mosques and schools. Now we must focus on political empowerment. It is going to take time."

A common theme was identifying political candidates and leaders who support the Muslim community. Dr. Imad ad-dean Ahmad, an American Muslim scholar and the president of the Minaret of Freedom Institute told the community that "no candidate is perfect. The nature of politics is compromise...It is necessary" but asked us not to sell out on the core issues. These issues according to Dr. Ahmad are ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the siege against Gaza, preventing the impending war against Iran, and fighting to preserve the civil liberties of not only Muslims but Hispanics as well.

Panelists urged the masajid to hold regular sessions to educate the community on candidates, where they stand on issues of immediate concern to the Muslim community, and to urge civic engagement. With no more than 20 attendees, however, Imam Shaker Elsayed associated low attendance with poor advertising, but said that there is a degree of apathy in our community.

Ibrahim Ramey reminded us that "Allah has made us as khalifs- viceroys- on this earth. It is not only a political responsibility but our spiritual responsibility to be engaged, to organize, mobilize, and register to vote."

***The American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections is an umbrella organization representing American Muslim Alliance (AMA), American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), Council on American Islamic Relations (ICNA), Muslim Alliance in North America (MANA), Muslim American Society-Freedom (MAS Freedom), Muslim Student Association-National (MSA-N), Muslim Ummah of North America (MUNA), and United Muslims of America (UMA). American Muslims for Civic Engagement (AMCE), Islamic Educational Center of Orange County (IEC), Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), and Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) are affiliated with AMT as observers.

Fair Use Notice

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.





Opinions expressed in various sections are the sole responsibility of their authors and they may not represent Al-Jazeerah & &