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Posted Online on Monday, 30 October 2006 15:50 IST

Muslim Islamic NewsAmerican Muslims support Democratic Party

By Abdus Sattar Ghazali

The Milli Gazette Online

26 October 2006

Majority of American Muslims are poised to support the Democratic Party in November 7 midterm election in which several polls suggest that President Bush's Republican Party is likely to lose control of the congress while a Democratic Muslim candidate, Keith Ellison, is expected to become the first Muslim in American congress.

State Senator Ellison is the favorite in Minnesota 's 5th Congressional District, which is considered to be a Democratic citadel. The district hasn't been in Republican hands since 1960.

According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations survey of Muslim voters, release on October 24, 2006, 42 percent consider themselves members of the Democratic Party while only 17 per cent are Republican. Another 28 percent do not belong to any party. 

Apparently the American Muslim voters are leaning towards the Democratic Party because of the Bush Administration policies that substantially curtailed the civil liberties of the seven-million strong Muslim community in America in the aftermath of 9/11. It may be recalled that in November 2000 presidential election American Muslims voted en bloc for the Republican Presidential candidate George Bush who was the Governor of Texas at that time. According to the former Congressman, Paul Findley, about 3.2 million Muslims turned out for vote and 65 percent voted for President Bush. About 70 percent of the Muslim Americans are eligible to vote. 

There is a widespread dissatisfaction in the Muslim American community with the Bush administration's treatment of Arab and Muslim Americans since the September 11 attacks, Among the policies that have alienated Muslims are those allowing racial profiling of Arab and Muslim men, the use of secret evidence in cases said to touch on national security, and the detention and deportation of many Arab and Muslim nationals without the right to legal representation. 

At the same time, the government had launched a campaign against Muslim charitable organizations for allegedly providing financial or other material assistance to groups the government designates as "terrorist." Several Muslim charities have been shut down though non has been found so far having links with "terrorist" organizations. 

In 2004 Presidential election, the Muslim community voted for the Democratic candidate John Kerry and Democratic congressional candidates. 

American Muslims are taking very active part in the mid-term election with voter registration campaigns and holding election forums to motivate and educate the community. American Muslims has the highest turnout of voters in elections. The CAIR survey said that 49 said that they voted regularly. 

On the Muslim voters views on the issues, the CAIR survey finds out that 55 percent believe that the Bush Administration's current war on terror has become a war on Islam. Sixty-nine percent believe a just resolution to the Palestinian cause would improve America's standing in the Muslim world. Sixty-six percent support working toward normalization of relations with Iran . Only 12 percent believe the war in Iraq was a worthwhile effort, and just 10 percent support the use of the military to spread democracy in other countries. 

On other issues, 84 percent said Muslims should emphasize more strongly the values they share with Christians and Jews. Eighty-two percent said terrorist attacks harm American Muslims. Seventy-seven percent said Muslims worship the same God as Christians and Jews. 

"It is clear from our survey that American Muslim voters defy simplistic labeling and maintain an independent streak that should be taken into account by any candidate for public office," said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad.

Other interesting results of the CAIR survey say:

- Muslims are highly educated professionals. Sixty-two percent have obtained a bachelor's degree or higher. About half are professionals. 

- American Muslims are a religiously diverse community. Thirty-one percent attend a mosque on a weekly basis. Sixteen percent attend a mosque once or twice a month. Twenty-seven percent seldom or never attend a mosque. Most respondents consider themselves "just Muslims," avoiding distinctions between Sunni or Shia. Thirty-six percent are Sunni and 12 percent said they are Shia. Less than half of one percent said they are "Salafi," while two percent said they are "Sufi." 

- They are well integrated in American society with 86 percent celebrating the Fourth of July. Sixty-four percent flying the U.S. flag. Forty-two percent said they volunteer for institutions serving the public, compared to 29 percent of all Americans in 2005. 

The CAIR survey also indicated that Muslim voters are concentrated in 12 states : California, 20 percent; Illinois, 8.9 percent; New York, 8.6 percent; Texas, 7 percent; New Jersey, 6.8 percent; Michigan, 6.7 percent; Florida, 6.4 percent; Virginia, 6.3 percent; Maryland, 3.1 percent; Ohio, 3 percent; Pennsylvania, 2.9 percent; and Minnesota, 2.8 percent.

The CAIR survey was based on 1,000 registered Muslim voters who were randomly drawn from a pool of some 400,000 registered Muslim voters in various states. The survey, conducted by Genesis Research Associates (www.genesisresearch.net), has a margin of error of plus or minus three percent. 

Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Executive Director of the online magazine, American Muslim Perspective: www.amperspective.com

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