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U.S. Muslims Form Task Force For Elections

InternationalWASHINGTON, February 18 A nationwide coalition of U.S.
Muslim organizations announced on Tuesday, February 17, the formation of a task force to increase political participation of community members and develop alliances on a wide variety of social, political, economic and moral issues.

The new body, called the \"American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and
Elections (AMT)\", will encourage American Muslims to vote and also have an influence - in the approaching presidential elections.

\"Our vote is the best guarantee of our civil rights and the best expression
of our citizenship,\" said AMT Coordinator Agha Saeed in a press release.

\"We will mobilize American Muslim voters at the local, state and national levels, with a primary focus on those states and races that may have the most impact in the coming elections,\" he added.

Under the plan, each participating organization will be obliged to make a good faith effort to reach out to its own members to ensure their participation in the decision making process.

Organizations will seek such participation and policy input through opinion polls, questionnaires, community forums, town hall meetings, e-groups and other similar means.

The plan calls on American Muslim individuals and organizations to encourage community members to vote, research and compare candidates from their district and issue scorecards for the convenience of their community.

The task force also calls for organizing absentee ballots for the least likely-to-vote sections of the community and a get-out-to-vote team in district inhabited by Muslims.

The plan pushes Muslims forward for building local coalitions with like-minded individuals and organizations and maintain effective and visible presence in all local forums.

Other Issues

The AMT will put forward a \"civil rights plus\" agenda for the 2004 election cycle in which civil rights is the most important issue, but not the only.

\"We remain equally committed to education, homelessness, economic recovery, environmental and ecological safety, electoral reform, crime, and global peace and justice,\" reads the election plan posted on the AMT website.

The new group will concentrate on helping Muslims become \"full partners in the development and prosperity of our homeland,\" defending the civil rights of all Americans and developing alliances on a wide variety of social, political and economic issues.

The AMT is an umbrella organization representing American Muslim Alliance (AMA), Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), Islamic Society of North America (ISNA).

The coalition also includes Muslim Alliance of North America (MANA), Muslim American Society (MAS), Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), Muslim Student Association - National (MSA-N), and Project Islamic Hope (PIH).

A number of several organizations have rallied Arab-Americans to register for the vote in an effort to show they can be a great political force and key players in this year\'s presidential election.

The message has also been relayed in mosques and churches, with the voter registration campaigns have already shown encouraging results in New York, Florida and California, according to organizers.

\"The country\'s three million Arab-Americans could represent a considerable political force,\" Imad Hamad, Michigan director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) has said.

Hate crimes against Arab-Americans were reported throughout the country after the 9-11 attacks and U.S. authorities have questioned and detained hundreds of Arab-Americans.

\"The only solution was: be part of the process. Express your rights as American citizens and register to vote,\" added Hamad, a Lebanon native who moved to the states in 1980.


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