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OUR STRATEGIC ACTION ALERTS focus on what Muslims, and Muslim organizations,
can do to help others better understand Islam and what it has to offer the West,
and to help concerned Americans and Muslims build a better America.
Priority 1: Political
Muslim organizations have begun to work together, but much more needs to be done to work
toward the common goal of Muslims achieving greater political power (i.e. influence over
media, money, votes, positions), thereby, playing a bigger role in decision-making at
all levels of U.S. society.
Limited resources demand that Muslims develop a clear
vision, mission, long term strategy, and the plan, organization and infrastructure for
achieving common objectives on the path to political empowerment. Periodic
identification of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats should be used
to keep efforts on track, and to build and sustain the necessary consensus.
Two issues that need to be addressed immediately are: How can Muslims work together more effectively? How can Muslims
better communicate with other Americans?
A briefing book stating
Muslims' position on issues on which they are able to agree should be placed in
congressional offices and on the Internet.
Priority 2: Prioritize, organize, act
Muslims, like any other community, disagree about many things. Pick
something which the majority in your community can agree upon. Then organize, organize,
organize to turn out the vote, lobby, demonstrate peacefully until success is achieved.
Ask The Wisdom Fund to provide a facilitator (no fee
charged) to help your organization develop the needed consensus and action plan.
"The black movement, like the labor movement, the women's movement, and the
anti-war movement, has taught us a simple truth: The official channels, the
formal procedures of representative government have been sometimes useful,
but never sufficient, and have often been obstacles, to the achievement of
crucial human rights. What has worked in history has been direct action by
people engaged together, sacrificing, risking together, in a worthwhile cause."--
Howard Zinn, "Declarations of
Independence: Cross-Examining American Ideology," HarperPerrenial (1991), p.
Priority 3: Define Islam for
Don't let others tell America and the world
what Islam is or is not. Take the lead. In this age of the 30 second sound bite
a short, simple message repeated often works best.
Our sound bite, "The Truth About Islam,"; described as the "best,
short introduction to Islam" by readers, was displayed in the Washington Metro, Aug '98, and has
been published in Islamic Horizons, Jan/Feb '99; The Brown Journal of World
Affairs, Fall '96; Washington Report On Middle East Affairs, Apr '96; Foreign
Affairs, Jul/Aug and Nov/Dec '95; American Muslim Council's The AMC Report, May
'95; The Washington Times, Feb '95; Eastern Times, Aug '95; etc. Donate so that we may expand this
Buy "The Truth About Islam" rack cards for
your friends, neighbors, classmates, colleagues, media, community leaders, and
elected officials. For purpose built mosques we have a bronze plaque.
Use "free" media and other
Use "free" media and other
opportunities. For example: news releases on Muslim holidays, events at your mosque,
etc., using Eid stamps whenever possible, using public access television to present your
views; when granting visas to foreign media covering Muslim countries require that their
team include Muslims.
Apply for broadcasting jobs for
The FCC has replaced a 30-year-old equal employment
opportunity (EEO) program that was struck down as unconstitutional in 1998 by the U.S.
Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. "Under the new system, the FCC will require broadcasters to
have an active outreach program for hiring women and racial minorities. The companies
will have to publicize job openings widely to ensure that minorities and women hear
about and can compete for the positions."
Use boycotts to stop anti-Muslim
Change the behavior of offensive
publications and TV stations by boycotting the advertisers who supply their
income. This will send a powerful message to those organizations which
consistently equate Islam with terrorism. Boycotts will be more effective if
Muslims coordinate their actions to take on one advertiser at a time at the
national, state, and/or local level.
Get The Washington Post to hire
Washington Post columnist Dorothy Gilliam writes
(The Washington Post, December 20, 1997), "Newsrooms that do not reflect
America's diversity do their readers an injustice. They fail to tell the stories
of its citizens, they give readers a distorted image of themselves and they
grossly twist the reality of minority groups." We agree with Ms. Gilliam.
The Post has few, if any, Muslim reporters, editors, or columnists on its
payroll, and isn't hiring any. The Post isn't just another newspaper. It has a
tremendous influence on national policy. Without Muslims on its payroll the
Washington Post grossly twists the reality of Islam and Muslims.
The Washington Post, and ask about
their plans for hiring Muslims. Ask the same of your local newspaper and TV
station. Perhaps a legal case can be made for discrimination in employment.
Read these books, and start a
Read the book selections in our Activists' Library for
a better understanding of how US policy affects the lives of Americans, Muslims,
and the world. These books will tell you of the murder and exploitation of
modern imperialism, US military and CIA interventions since World War II, how
the Pentagon manufactured the threat of rogue states and nuclear outlaws to
protect cold war levels of defense spending, the facts behind the U.S.-Israeli
relationship, why the U.S. government bears prime responsibility for the Gulf
War, and how free market capitalism and individualism run amok are destroying
Then start an informal discussion group of Muslims and non-Muslims
who meet regularly to discuss current events affecting interfaith relations, and
take steps to improve them. Establish the following ground rules for when the
discussion turns to religion: don't proselytize, don't argue over beliefs.
Campaign for broadcasting Fairness
The Fairness Doctrine from 1949 until 1987, when
it was discontinued by the Federal Communications Commission, required
broadcasters, as a condition of getting their licenses from the FCC, to cover
controversial issues in their community, and to do so by offering some balancing
views. It did not require equal time for opposing views. It merely prevented a
station from day after day presenting a single view without airing opposing
views. The passing of media ownership into fewer hands, the potential for
conflicts of interests, and the virtual exclusion of significant opposing
viewpoints are good reasons to campaign for reinstatement of the broadcasting
Support campaign finance
The current system of campaign financing
encourages the US Congress to place the needs of large donors ahead of the needs
of the people who elected them to office. Muslims have virtually no voice in
Congress, and are under attack by over 150 "Stealth PAC's" which
follow the recommendations of the American Israel Political Action Committee.
The single most important piece of legislation for Muslims, and Americans,
concerned about the lack of representative government, and the erosion of US
democracy, is to pass legislation which would make illegal contributions to
candidates for the US House and Senate from outside their district or state.
Join with other groups in your state, and nationally, to support such
Islam, some Muslims argue, represents the world's first, and
Insist on accuracy and fairness in
A better educated society is more
likely to reject false propaganda against Islam. In order to reduce Eurocentric
bias talk to your teachers and school officials about incorporating in history
courses "A People's History of the United States" by Howard Zinn, and
"Rethinking World History" by Marshall G. S. Hodgson. We've heard that
some California schools have adopted a history text which has about 60 pages on
Islam approved by Muslim scholars.
A related goal might be to lobby Congress
to declare an Islamic History Month, or an Asian American History Month similar
to the African American History Month.
Observe Muslim holidays, display
Syracuse University has adopted
Eid-al-Fitr as a holiday for all students and faculty. Beginning in the year
2000 Paterson, New Jersey, schools will close for the two most important Muslim
holidays -- Eid al-Fitr, and Eid al-Adha. Ask your procurement people to include
Muslim holidays in their specifications for calendars, and petition your school
or university to adopt Eid-al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha as holidays for everyone.
In M.T. Mehdi, Akram Zadeh, Arwa Nasser v. The Board of Education of the City of
New York, the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York, on June 13,
1997 ordered that "New York City schools shall be permitted to display the
Crescent and Star symbol, as well as other cultural symbols, for temporary
periods." These Muslims have been displaying the Crescent and Star in
several prominent locations in New York City, and for the first time the
Crescent and Star was displayed on the Ellipse in front of The White House
during December 1997. Ask your school, university, company or office for
permission to display your symbols during holiday periods.
Participate in newspaper and magazine
Participate in the electronic forums of
national and local newspapers and magazines. Use News Link to find the web sites of national
and local newspapers and magazines, and visit the website to see if they have an
electronic forum (you won't find these forums in Usenet Newsgroups). Become a
regular contributor to at least one forum. Prepare yourself with the facts.
Check our News & Views, Recommended Reading, and Issues and Answers. Please be concise, specific,
and polite in your discussions.
Think globally, act locally
politics is local. Whether you want to influence a decision in your state,
across the US, or on the opposite side of the globe you need to lobby your
county, state or US representative. That means providing them information,
support, and building coalitions. A small, organized group that knows what it
wants, which can get other groups to support their concerns, and which can
either support or bring pressue upon their local representative is very
effective. Congressional voting records are in the Activists' Library. Write your representative, now!
Don't just sit there, do
Learn the facts, define the problem, evaluate
the options. Then speak out, write,
join or form an organization; don't just complain -- ACT!
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