Muslims Encouraged to Get Involved in Politics

September 24, 2000

Source: The Detroit News

On September 24, 2000, The Detroit News reported that "Muslim Americans are pursuing an improved public image and increased political participation in a system they feel sometimes treats them unjustly. The most effective way to do that is to get out the vote, said Niwad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The council organized the national 'Muslim Americans Voter Registration Day' Sept. 15 to register new voters in the estimated 1,500 mosques in the United States. Other plans include training activists in media relations and political lobbying, and producing voter guides. Additionally, the council is pushing for passage of the Secret Evidence Repeal Act, which would repeal a provision in the 1996 Anti-Terrorism Act that empowers the federal government to detain those suspected of threatening the national security while withholding evidence against them. The government can keep a case in secret indefinitely if it convinces a judge that national security is at risk. Awad said the law -- a reaction to the 1995 bombing of an Oklahoma City federal building -- is used primarily against Muslims, and that about 20 Americans, a majority of them Muslim, are being detained under the act. The repeal bill has stalled in the House. 'Stereotypes have become policy,' he said, and 'the way to fight this is to become politically involved and to have a voice -- to vote.'