Muslim Voters Meet Candidates, Officials at Picnic

August 17, 2008

Author: Ben Hubbard

Source: The Washington Post

Some came for the spicy chicken, others for the twisty balloons. But Maura Yasin came to send a message to the public officials and political candidates who turned out to mingle with members of Northern Virginia's Muslim community yesterday.

"I came to be part of the crowd, to show local Virginia politicians that we are here and want to be taken seriously for the issues that affect us," said Yasin, 46, of Falls Church, who was wearing an American flag head scarf held in place with a "We the People" pin.

"We don't want to be swept under the rug," she said.

Yasin was among about 500 Muslims who gathered at a Fairfax County park for the eighth annual "civic picnic" organized by a group of Northern Virginia mosques and Muslim associations.

The event enables Muslims to meet candidates interested in courting votes in the fast-growing community. Organizers said the picnic was the first of several events planned to encourage Muslim participation in the upcoming elections.

About a dozen state and local officials and candidates attended the picnic. Representatives from the presidential campaigns of Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) provided information about the candidates.