Muslim vote is powerful, group told

Muslim vote is powerful, group told

Examples are cited in Dearborn

BY ZACHARY GORCHOW
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

December 24, 2006

The convention continues today
The annual convention of the Muslim American Society and the Islamic Circle of North America continues from 5 a.m. to midnight today at the Hyatt Regency, 600 Town Center Drive, Dearborn. For more information, visit www.icna.org or www.masnet.org.cq-grahamonboth/jg

Muslims played a critical role in some key elections this year. But elected officials won’t take them seriously if they don’t continue to organize and turn out Muslim voters, two politically active Muslims said Saturday at a convention in Dearborn.

If there are efforts to register Muslims to vote, educate them about the candidates and get them to the polls to vote for one candidate, politicians will court their support, Jameel Johnson, an aide to U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., said at the Muslim American Society and Islamic Circle of North America convention.

“It is our job to make the Muslim vote visible to candidates,” he said.

A strategy of organizing Muslim voters worked in Virginia this year in the U.S. Senate race.

The effort was so organized that Muslim taxi drivers in northern Virginia took the day off to ferry Muslims to the polls, said Imam Mahdy Bray, a speaker at the convention. Volunteers also made phone calls to Muslims in Virginia to urge them to vote, he said.

As a result, Democrat James Webb ousted incumbent Republican George Allen by about 9,000 votes in a race in which 50,000 Muslims went to the polls — 47,000 of them voting for Webb, Bray said.

“You can make a difference when you work,” Bray said.

Mohammed Shoman, 18, of Dearborn said the conference inspired him to get involved. “We realize how much our influence is” now, he said.

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