by Enver Masud
American Muslims appear to have emerged as a political
force--perhaps crucial in swinging the election in favor of Mr. George Bush as the next president
of the United States. However, while significant progress has been
made by Muslims, now is the time for sober reflection.
Muslims remain virtually unrepresented in Congress, the White House, and the
all important media--and the path ahead is much more difficult.
Two weeks before elections, the American Muslim Political Coordination
Council (AMPCC) endorsed Texas Gov. George W. Bush citing his outreach to the
Muslim community, his stand on the issue of secret evidence, and an expectation
of greater flexibility on foreign policy issues. This was American Muslims'
first attempt at a bloc vote. An informal post-election poll (not a
statistically valid survey) found 70 percent of Muslims voted for Mr. Bush.
Coupled with the closeness of the popular vote nationwide, and in key states
such as Florida, it highlighted the importance of the Muslim vote for
presidential candidates George Bush and Al Gore.
The results of the November 7 election were hotly contested--most
significantly in multiple cases filed in the Florida courts, and the U.S.
Supreme Court. However, the December 12 U.S. Supreme Court ruling appears to
have cleared Mr. Bush's way to the White House. And with time running out for
further challenges and recounts, Mr. Bush will have won the Florida electoral
vote by a very slim margin of 537 popular votes, thereby, giving him the
majority of electoral votes needed to elect the next president of the United
States: 270 out of total of 538.
The narrow margin for victory in Election 2000, together with 152 Muslims
elected mostly to local offices--92 in Texas, according to the American Muslim
Alliance--has given American Muslims greater visibility on the political scene.
This should increase over time as more Muslims become politically active, and as
their numbers increase by birth, immigration, and reversion to Islam.
But significant challenges lie ahead that will test the mettle and faith of
Muslims were able to unite in fighting bigotry, racial profiling, the use of
secret evidence in immigration proceedings, and on the future of Jerusalem. In
the near future these issues, with the probable exception of Jerusalem, may be
resolved, and unless consensus is achieved on new issues, the political momentum
Now is the time to build on the gains of Election 2000.
The first priority is to arrive at consensus strategic objectives. Without
agreement on where Muslims are headed, there can be no agreement on how to get
there. Based on this agreement, a "briefing book" on the American Muslim
position on specific issues should be prepared and placed in congressional
offices, and with key members of the executive branch. Representative Tom
Campbell (R-CA) suggested such a "briefing book" to Syed R. Mahmood of the
United Muslims of America--recent candidate for the California State Assembly.
To develop these objectives, update them periodically, and to effectively
leverage the limited resources of the community, requires a support organization
that does not presently exist. Such an organization would exist only to serve
its member organizations. It would not engage in initiatives not authorized by
its member organizations via properly approved resolutions. It would be funded
by its member organizations--local, state and national--according to a formula
based upon their income. Think of this organization as an OSP--organization
service provider. The OSP would provide the infrastructure necessary to serve
the collective, as opposed to the indvidual, needs of its member organizations.
An organization model that may serve as a good starting point is the
National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC).
NARUC has a small Washington headquarters staff that essentially maintains
the infrastructure for joint action by NARUC member organizations in each of the
50 states. The officers of NARUC and the permanent committees are rotated, while
the substantive work is done by ad hoc task forces setup to tackle specific
issues. The recommendations of these task forces may lead to resolutions by the
NARUC standing committees which, when approved by the Executive Committee,
become NARUC's legislative agenda--essentially the "briefing book" suggested
by Mr. Campbell.
Setting up such an organization is technically quite simple, but it will not
come easily. Yet, given the diversity of Muslim views, a single hierarchy is not
likely to be effective for long. A NARUC type organization can serve to focus
the efforts of any number of diverse, Muslim organizations toward common
objectives, while each organization remains free to pursue its other goals.
One might ask: "Given the existence of the AMPCC, what is the need for yet
another Muslim organization?"
The AMPCC is comprised of the leaders of the American Muslim Alliance,
American Muslim Council, Council on American Islamic Relations, Muslim Public
Affairs Council, Council of Presidents of Arab-American Organizations. It lacks
efficient and effective mechanisms for: including all Muslim organizations;
building consensus among dozens (if not hundreds) of Muslim organizations;
building and maintaining the infrastructure for joint action; funding itself.
Also, by perpetuating hierarchies, the AMPCC lacks the flexibility for
attracting the best resources available to the community.
In essence, we propose a flexible organization able to serve the
entire community, with a small support staff (one person initially,
and three maximum) utilizing state-of-the-art mechanisms and
technology. On an organization chart, one may envision this as an
inverted pyramid balanced on top of a pyramid. Member organizations
are at the top, followed by the Executive Committee, and other
permanent and/or ad-hoc committees, task forces, etc. as needed. The
OSP answers to the Executive Committee.
The consensus and transparency resulting from the creation of such an
organization, would act as an incentive for improving the effectiveness and
efficiency of all organizations served by the OSP.
Regardless of the specific objectives agreed upon, much greater Muslim
representation in American media has to be a very high priority. New rules,
established by the Federal Communications Commission earlier this year, have
opened the door to the hiring of more women and minorities in the broadcast
Assuming that American Muslims do one day achieve significant representation
in Congress, the White House, and American media, that is when they will face
their biggest challenge. Where will they stand when it comes to a choice between
the greed of unrestrained capitalism, and social justice--the essence of Islamic
[Enver Masud is an engineering management consultant, and founder of The
Wisdom Fund--www.twf.org. This article was published in England in Impact International, January
[Court challenges to vote counts may have been avoided had one fact been
acknowledged: precision cannot exceed accuracy. The accuracy of systems for
counting votes, now available in Florida and in many other states, is less
than the precision required for establishing who won when the margin of
victory is estimated to be as small as generally reported in the press. For
example: One may use a simple ruler to measure the width of a room where the
required precision may be one quarter inch, and the ruler is accurate to one
tenth of an inch. One may not use the same ruler to measure the width of a
single hair which requires precision of say one thousandth of an inch. Thus,
the Florida recounts were incapable of providing results in which one may
justifiably have a higher degree of confidence than in the initial count.--Enver
Masud, The Wisdom Fund]
["In Brazil's municipal elections several weeks ago, results from even the
most remote regions were tallied within 12 hours.... The elections went
smoothly because Brazil, Latin America's largest and most populous nation
with 170 million people, voted electronically."--Stephen Buckley,
"Brazilians' Pride Grows in Electronic Voting System," Washington Post,
December 2, 2000]
John Byrne, "Carter
says Gore won 2000 election," The Raw Story, September 22, 2005
VIDEO: Eric Blumrich, "Grand
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