Republicans acknowledge importance of Muslim vote
By Abdus Sattar Ghazali
San Jose, CA: The California Republican Party Chairman, Mr. Shawn Steel, says that his party recognizes the importance of the Muslim vote. He made this observation during his meeting with Dr. Agha Saeed, National Chairman of the American Muslim Alliance (AMA) at the sidelines of the CRP Convention here.
Dr. Agha Saeed told Mr. Steel that the Muslim community wants three things to be done to support the Republican party in the forthcoming elections: recognition of the Muslim vote, appointment of Muslims in the Republican Party structure, and cooperative action.
Mr. Steel said that the RP recognizes the Muslim vote. However, he wondered what creative ways could be employed to accord more recognition to the Muslim vote. He said that people ought to be educated that there are a million Muslims in California. He added that the Republican Party has to grow and reach out to all communities.
On the growing population of Muslims in America, the CRP chief pointed out that it is projected that Philadelphia will become the first Muslim majority city in the US in 20 years. Mr. Shawn Steel acknowledged that Muslims are very poorly represented in the party. “The Blue Badges Committee has agreed to reach out to minorities. In November, there will be party appointments and give me the names of 100 Muslims who could be appointed.” Picture shows from left: Mr. Husam Hammad, American Muslim for Global Peace & Justice; Ms. Samina Faheem, National Coordinator of the AMA; Dr. Agha Saeed, National Chair AMA; Mr. Tareef Nashashibi, Chairman of Arab American Committee; Mr. Shawn Steel, CRP Chairman; Mr. Johnny Khamis, President, Arab American Congress, San Jose; Mr. Dannis Carton, President, California Congress and Ms. Sameer Lemon of the Muslim Community Association.
The CRP Chairman emphasized that the Muslim community should raise money for candidates. In this respect he pointed out that Mr. Safi Qureshey, a leading Pakistani American entrepreneur, had started raising money for party candidates ten years ago. He suggested that the Muslims should participate in elections at various levels and form their own groups and raise money for their local candidates.
Dr. Agha Saeed argued that the Republican Party should bring all people into its fold, including Muslims and Arabs. “Many young people are ready to work and you have to open a channel of communication with the Arab and Muslim community.”
Mr. Dannis Carton, President, California Congress of Republicans, suggested that the RP should bring out a flyer for the Muslim voters.
Mr. Shawn Steel said the Republican Party provides training to people on how to get elected. “We will also train on how to raise money. We will give them voter profile. This is my 10-year plan,” he said.
Mr. Tareef Nashashibi, Chairman of Arab American Committee, Orange County, pointed out that the RP has concentrated on the Cuban vote in Florida but the Muslim vote was not recognized and so were the Muslims. He said the RP machinery has probably decided to keep Muslims recognition because of 9/11. Mr. Nashashibi also said that Muslims feel bad about the closure of three Muslim charity organizations. He also clarified that all Arabs are not Muslim and many of them are Christians. “Therefore, we should say Arab and Muslim vote.”
Mr. Dannis Carton believed that the new immigrants do not understand issues. He added that “we encourage interest groups. We are looking for local leadership.” Carton said, “We have such think tanks as Clarmount Institute.”
Dr. Agha Saeed pointed out that the AMA provides training to young people. “The AMA has established a Youth Think Tank. Its young workers made research on various aspects of election and political parties in California.”
Ms. Samina Faheem, National Coordinator of the AMA and Director of the AMA Youth Think Tank, suggested that the AMA should take its youth think tank members to the Clarmount Institute so that they could benefit from its experience.
Pakistan Link – Feb. 15, 2002