USA Today April 29, 2004
Bush still enjoys some Muslim support
President Bush still enjoys pockets of strong support among America's Muslims, despite deep resentment over scrutiny of their community following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
And while Democrats outnumber Republicans among U.S. Muslims, there is a sense that presumptive Democratic nominee John Kerry has done relatively little to reach out to the community.
It was just a throwaway line, an aside in a speech to some fellow American Muslims that Muqtedar Khan considered a surefire crowd-pleaser. But when he criticized President Bush over the war on Iraq, Khan was surprised by the response.
"I was booed. They were shouting and booing at me," said Khan, a political scientist at Adrian College in Michigan. "A man came and told me, 'If you think the war in Iraq is not moral then I'm sorry to say you have no idea what morality is.'"
Among Bush's supporters are Iraqi-Americans and others grateful that Saddam Hussein was ousted, giving their fellow Shiias a chance to govern in that country after decades of oppression.
Others are wealthy, immigrant businessmen loyal to the Republican Party. They can be found among the Bush campaign's Pioneers and Rangers, who have raised tens of thousands of dollars for his re-election.
More votes could come from socially conservative Muslims, drawn into the Republican camp because of its opposition to gay marriage. "We are working hard to maintain and build upon the support for the president," said Scott Stanzel, a Bush campaign spokesman.
Still, no one expects Bush to win a majority of the Muslim vote and there's a danger in the recent Iraqi uprisings, which could further undercut Islamic and particularly Shiia support for the president.
Surveys in the last few years have found that American Muslims identify themselves as Democrats at a ratio of about 2-to-1, said Tom Smith of the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.
Anger at Bush's policies has grown with each mosque raided and Muslim charity shut down on suspicion of ties with terrorists: The White House has defended such actions as critical to national security.
National Muslim leaders who endorsed Bush over Al Gore in 2000 expecting the Texas governor would be more sympathetic to their concerns have said publicly that they made a mistake.