By Sabrina Siddiqui, 06/11/2012
WASHINGTON — As President Barack Obama travels across the country to raise funds and court voters, one group that was drawn to his candidacy four years ago has expressed a feeling of being further and further marginalized.

Muslim Americans could play a critical role in several battleground states come November. But while they supported Obama overwhelmingly in 2008, their votes are hardly guaranteed this go around.
Early in the Obama administration there was little reason for complaint. The president openly criticized the Bush administration’s policies of torture, signing of the Patriot Act and excessive surveillance of Muslims, and vowed to shut down Guantanamo Bay within a year. In a 2009 address in Cairo, Obama marked “a new beginning” for the United States, one in which the war on terror would no longer be synonymous with its marginalizing approach to Muslims.
But many of the promises have been left unmet. Nearly four years later, Guantanamo remains open, and just last year the president signed into law a four-year renewal of some of the Patriot Act’s most controversial provisions. And in some instances, administration policy has alienated the Muslim-American community. The continued drone strikes in Pakistan and revelations about Obama’s secret “kill list” of terrorist targets are among the list of policies that have caused some Muslims to re-think whether they will vote for Obama again this fall.
“This year there are many issues that are of great concern, looking at the last four years of President Obama, especially concerning civil rights,” said Naeem Baig, chairman of the American Muslim Taskforce, a coalition representing 13 of the country’s largest Muslim organizations.*
“A good number of people are asking, why should we support the president when he did not deliver on many of the promises he made?”
The AMT endorsed Obama in 2008 but has not yet made an endorsement this cycle. Baig says it would be premature to leave any options off the table. “There’s a very strong voice asking about a possible third-party candidate,” he said.
A significant number of the nation’s 2.75 million Muslims live in key swing states, such as Michigan, Ohio, Florida and Virginia. And while younger Muslims rallied around Obama in 2008 and mostly identify themselves as Democratic, the older generation represents a socially and fiscally conservative group that can be swayed in either direction. In 1992, they voted two to one for George H. W. Bush and, although they gave Bill Clinton the same margin in 1996, they were drawn back to the Republican party by George W. Bush in 2000.
One of the last polling of Muslims, conducted almost a year ago by Pew, showed a 76 percent approval of Obama’s job performance. But many of the Muslim community’s grievances have emerged since then, including the issues of drone strikes in Pakistan, the president’s signing of the National Defense Authorization Act — despite its funding of programs that the community considers anti-Muslim — and surveillance of Islamic centers and students by the FBI and NYPD.
The Obama campaign was not available for comment.
Groups such as the Arlington Young Democrats Muslim Caucus in Virginia, who are mobilizing a grassroots effort to encourage Muslims to turn out and vote this cycle, are finding it harder to make the case for Obama.
“In terms of pushback, we’ve talked to a lot of people who said they wouldn’t necessarily vote for Mitt Romney, but when it comes to pledging their support for Obama they are still undecided,” said Ahmad Ishaq, one of the group’s founders and co-chairs.
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the first Muslim to serve in Congress, argues that Muslims shouldn’t be on the fence. “The Muslim community doesn’t have a real choice in this election, because Romney is awful and completely stands in opposition to the interests of the Muslim American community,” Ellison said. “If there’s anything about Obama you don’t like, triple it when it comes to Romney.”
Muslims can find some solace in the end of the war in Iraq and the administration’s openness to dialogue with their community leaders. According to a New York Times report, top White House aides have had policy discussions with Muslim and Arab-American advocates on topics such as foreign policy, the economy, immigration and national security. Many Muslims also held a favorable view of the president’s swift action on Libya and welcomed his initial support for the building of a community center near Ground Zero in 2010.
Still, Ellison acknowledged that Obama has disappointed Muslims, pointing to “legitimate issues” worth raising about the drone program and the inaction over NYPD surveillance.
“We have every right as Americans to get answers to these questions,” he said. “We can raise a range of things and we will, of course. But let’s raise these issues with an administration we have some chance of persuading — not an administration who just doesn’t want to hear it.”
Haris Tarin, director of the Washington office for the Muslim Public Affairs Council, a public service agency, said Muslim Americans, like many other communities, projected a lot of expectations on Obama in 2008, calling some of them “unfair.”
“I think the Muslim American community is willing to give the president another chance,” Tarin said. “They understand that it’s been a very polarizing four years.”
To combat apathy among its contingency, MPAC is pushing a national campaign to ensure that Muslims are civilly and electorally engaged this cycle.
However, Baig, the American Muslim Taskforce chairman, is not so quick to dismiss the presumptive Republican presidential candidate. Baig highlighted the contrast between Romney and his former opponents, such as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and Herman Cain, with regard to rhetoric around the Muslim community during the GOP primaries.
“He took on a much lighter tone in the debates and made it clear that people of all faiths are welcome in this country,” Baig said. “Coming from a religious minority himself, Romney could open up and meet with Muslims to try and undo some of his party’s damage in isolating, even shunning, the community.”
Erin Mershon contributed to this report.
Article courtesy: Huffington Post
* ICNA assumed the chairmanship of the American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections (AMT), a national coalition of the country’s largest Muslim organizations in 2012. AMT’s member organizations also include: American Muslim Alliance (AMA), American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Muslim Alliance in North America (MANA), Muslim American Society (MAS), Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA), Muslim Ummah of North America (MUNA), North American Imams Federation (NAIF) and United Muslims of America (UMA).

26 Responses

  1. The Obama administration couldn’t do much for Muslims. It isaid that the devil u know is better than the angel u do not know.

  2. Mitt would be worse….Paul would be a waste vote (has he said anything that would benefit Muslims?)…therefore that leaves Obama. The man has my vote.

  3. We Muslims have to vote for Obama, though he has indeed disappointed us on many issues. The alternative, a intolerant, pro-Israel, consummate political hack Romney would take the nation back to the Bush era days of steal from poor to give to rich, more blind allegiance to Israel, more support for interventionism in Muslim affairs both here and abroad. The man is a tool for all the isalmophobes and right-wingers.
    If anything hold your nose and vote Obama.

  4. Read the following paragraph and you can see clearly who the Muslims will vote for during the next elections. It’s actually very logical.
    “A significant number of the nation’s 2.75 million Muslims live in key swing states, such as Michigan, Ohio, Florida and Virginia. And while younger Muslims rallied around Obama in 2008 and mostly identify themselves as Democratic, the older generation represents a socially and fiscally conservative group that can be swayed in either direction. In 1992, they voted two to one for George H. W. Bush and, although they gave Bill Clinton the same margin in 1996, they were drawn back to the Republican party by George W. Bush in 2000.”
    1992 Republicans (against the ruling party)
    1996 Democrats (against the ruling party)
    2000 Republicans (against the ruling party)
    2004 Democrats (against the ruling party)
    2008 Democrats (against the ruling party)
    2012 ???
    So that pretty much should sum it up for you. We rally behind one of the two parties and they go into the office and forget all about you.
    People with short term memory have already forgotten that the first thing Obama did after joining the office was to order drone attacks on Pakistan.
    And you dare not say anything about the Republicans, as they will simply tag you as a terrorist, and that’s pretty much the end of your voice.
    As for these Terrorist Tags, they must have gotten a great deal on them, for ordering wholesale.

  5. Obama betrayed Muslims.
    His strong feelings for Gays & lesbians are against all devine religions.
    Mitt Romney appears to be a more matured and ethical person.

  6. Islam against abortion.
    Republican party against abortion.
    Islam for protection of marriage.
    Republican party for protection of marriage.
    Islam for Zakat (flat tax)
    Republican party for flat tax.
    Islamic World history based on free market principals.
    Republican Party for free marketing principals.
    Islam for prayer in schools.
    Republican Party for prayer in schools.
    Islamic history, all great Caliphs like
    Umar II, had a golden age because he was fiscally responsible.
    Republican party values for fiscal responsibility.
    Obama for abortion – haram. for g** marriage – haram. for more riba and national debt – haram.
    Obama – haram haram haram!
    But of course Republican party has Muslim haters.
    If core moderate Republicans can take over the party and end islamophobia, then Muslims should vote for Romney.
    I think Romney is just a watered down Republican who mainly has had a liberal policy past.
    Moreover, I like Romney because he came in the defense of Pakistan and added that Pakistan at the core will always be our ally.
    For that reason, I will vote for Romney.
    Obama hates Pakistan and criticizes Pakistan more than any other President in US history. His VP Biden is drowning on donations from Hindu Right Wing think tanks.
    I will vote for Romney!

  7. We Muslims are offcourse disappointed with Obama. I don’t remember he ever visiting a mosque in the USA and addressing a Muslim audience. At least George Bush (son) visited the D.C. Mosque and invited Muslim leaders & Scholars to the white house for talks after the terrible 9/11 attach. Romney, I am not sure he ever even heard of we Muslim living the USA let alone addressing a Muslim audience. That leaves us with no choice but to vote for Mr. Obama.

  8. We Muslims should make block voting. Select one candidate and vote for him. As per Paul Findley in his book “Silence no More” Muslims are the balancing power in the election. We should be very selective, In spite of all the drawbacks Obama is much better candidate than Mitt Romney. He (Mitt) will follow the same policy as that of Bush and start another war with Iran. At least Obama will not do that. He has brought up the economy from the steep downward trend. Let him improve it more in the next coming years. There are many baseless allegations against him so to divert Muslim vote to Mitt. If Obama is bad, Mitt is no better than him.
    We Muslims should therefore vote for Obama.
    Imtiyaz Desnavi
    Los Angeles.

  9. Muslims! If you vote for Obama or Romney YOU are the problem.
    Vote with principle or not at all, you’re making the lives Muslims everywhere miserable.

  10. Did someone mention that Muslims should reside with republican because they are close to what Islam preaches?
    “Islam for prayer in schools.
    Republican Party for prayer in schools.”
    Since when Islam says force prayers in school where students from all faith attend? And there is no way my Muslim child is going to learn to pray to Christ at the public school. VOTE FOR OBAMA! lesser evil!

  11. Read lot’s good comment, only one really stand out. ” Vote Bank” Good Option. First you have understand No one listen to you in this country “USA” , if you keep doing, whatever you doing. Meaning Vote’s D OR R And they knows that. So what you do? In my opinion and hope.
    1)STOP give away your Vote to Democrat or Republican . But MUST ALWAYS VOTE IN ALL TYPE OF ELECTION. (No vote’ No vice) simple.
    2)VOTE Third party/Independent candidate. Now you deposit let say 2.5 million Vote throughout USA in November Election.
    3)Hoping/Assuming, large Vote deposit come from major swing states.
    4)The Candidate how just lose the election on key swings states and lost presidency by margin of less than 10,000 vote’s. And will saw, Hundred of thousand vote given by Muslims on those swing state to 3rd candidate. They think twice before ignoring Muslims of the UNITED STATE OF AMERICAN. And (GOD WILL) their policy will be fare/If not favorable to all minorities .
    5 Wal mat’s Lowe’s , MacDonald and so on. Will send you a “HAPPY RAMDAN” Greeting throughout national media.
    But we all have to vote Unanimously . So, Ask Allah Help and guidance.

  12. you dont get it(imigrants)thats your problem counting on someone else to solve our problems..You guys kiss butt to american non-muslim and when it comes to american born muslim you treat them like dogs…Since 911 you gus hve been really selling out your religion for a desire to live here in peace with the white non-muslim…

  13. neither party is for muslims,they both have to answer to thier base,so really Obama is the better choice only because he is the lessor of 2 evils…Both parties is strictly for Isreal,Both are killing Muslims all over the world,both are dividing muslim and putting us against eachother..(just read the comment)yes republicans are more conserverative..but they really hate muslims..You be a fool and vote republican,if it was up to them they would ship everyone of you immigrants back to where you came from….Im not voting for neither they are both not good for us muslim…May Allah help us all…we need to unite a be brothers and sisters to eachother here and all over the world,and hold on to the rope of Allah and his messenger(SAW)that will solve our problems not running to non-muslim to help us all the time.We all should be shamed of our selves when we have Quran to guide us,just look at us,a mess everywhere…Oh Allah please help us AMEEN!

  14. Im not a Muslim but I believe as an American I should worship as I believe. After reading some of the comments, I wonder what runs through the writers mind as how fast change should occur. 4 years right after the far right has demonized what they deem not Christian (their definition of Christianity ). My Muslim sis n bros it takes time for change to occur. So don’t just sit in criticism – VOTE for the process of change to come

  15. I agree that neither the Romney nor the Obama tickets are palatable for Muslims concerned about the sanctity of life. Specifically the lives of Muslims abroad. If Ron Paul or Gary Johnson was a serious contender, I would ask Muslims to vote for them. But since neither are really in the running, are you sure you want to vote libertarian.? I mean they want to eliminate government spending. What are you going to do about healthcare, programs for special needs children? Welfare? Regulation to prevent corporate crimes? I know liberal viewpoints often clash with some of our Islamic values, but the vast majority of their stances are shared by the ideals in our religion. I would rather pick green than libertarian.

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