American Muslim leadership accused of sellout
By Khalid Hasan
WASHINGTON: A Muslim activist has charged that despite a last minute appeal from former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed and numerous Muslims from around the world, America’s Muslim leadership may have “sold out again.”
According to Toronto-based North American Muslim community activist Tarek Fatah, MuslimWakeUp.com, America’s most widely read Muslim media outlet, is reporting in an exclusive story that American Muslim Taskforce (AMT), a coalition of major Muslim organisations, is preparing to announce later this week that they are not issuing an endorsement for a presidential candidate in the upcoming elections. MuslimWakeUp.Com reports that this decision has dismayed many Muslims. It quotes Aslam Abdullah, editor of the Minaret Magazine and Muslim Observer, as saying, “The national leadership misled the Muslim community by giving them the impression that a wise decision was on the horizon … The decision (not to endorse) is a tacit endorsement of George Bush.”
James Zogby, head of the Arab American Institute was also highly critical of the Muslim organisation’s strategy. He told MuslimWakeUp, “”Those organisations, frankly speaking, don’t represent their constituencies, and I think they made a terrible mistake … I think they are not paying any attention at all to what their constituencies are saying. I’m sorry, politics dictate that I should be gentler, but I think it’s important to tell the truth.” Zogby sees non-endorsement as a serious mistake and betrays a lack of political sophistication. “There are two words that ought to move everybody off the dime - John Ashcroft,” he said. “Seventy percent of American Muslims say they are voting for Kerry anyway. Guess how many votes, one way or another, these groups will impact - none, five may be.” In the 2000 elections, the same Muslim groups “bent over backward,” according to Fatah, to endorse Bush. “I guess old habits die hard; harder than dying in Iraq,” Fatah observed sardonically. A Muslim journalist who wants to remain nameless told Daily Times, “Yes. I have been following this issue. I believe it is a very tough situation. I feel that it has a lot to do with the 2000 endorsement and how everyone spat on the faces of the endorsers afterwards for endorsing Bush.
If you see Kerry’s position on Muslim issues is not much different than Bush’s. Indeed, Kerry is trying to be ultra Zionist and wants to hit Iran too. This I feel is keeping some people on the sidelines. My view is that non-endorsement will not make any difference. People are determined to see Bush out. Ashcroft has created the anti-Bush vote. Not many people really care about endorsements. In 2000, it was different as many felt that with Lieberman on the ticket, Muslims will have a raw deal; plus you also need to note that in 2000, Bush met Muslims twice and Gore refused several invitations to do likewise. Also, the Muslims felt that Bush Senior had spoken somewhat less harshly on Palestine. In short, Muslims who were in touch with Democrats tried their best but Gore refused to send Tipper Gore to a big Muslim convention where many expected her to come. It may be recalled that in 2000 after Bush met some Muslim leaders and even spoke against the Secret Evidence Act (established by Clinton) during his debate. This showed that he was serious about keeping his word. The Republicans went after the Muslim vote in a much more organised fashion. Considering the Bush administration’s Islamophobia, I feel that a neutral stance will be better because, God forbid, if they come back, then Ashcroft will take revenge.”