Muslim endorsement of Kerry under attack
WASHINGTON: The qualified endorsement given to Senator John Kerry by a grouping of American-Muslim organisations has been criticised for failing to draw a qualitative distinction between the two candidates and in the process insulting both of them.
In a statement on Friday, Muslim academic and activist MA Muqtedar Khan said, “The American Muslim Task Force - a self-appointed coalition of some American Muslim organisations has decided to insult both the Presidential candidates as a strategy to improve the civil rights environment in the US. On October 20th, in a strangely-worded statement, this group of Muslim leaders, on behalf of the American Muslim community, issued a ‘qualified endorsement’ of Senator John Kerry while actually asserting that it sees no qualitative distinction between his positions and those of the incumbent. A close reading of the statement reveals the problematic nature of American Muslim leadership. They seem to have no idea of how to advance and protect the interests of the constituency that they claim to represent. The present statement merely alienates American Muslims from both candidates.
According to Dr Khan, an Indian Muslim who heads the political science department at Adrian College, Michigan, the endorsement provides a criticism of the Bush administration as an “oppressive” regime and ensures that there will be very little cooperation between these very same organisations and the Bush administration if it returns to the White House in November 2004. He said, “Organisations which seek to develop closer relations with the institutions of power in order to have some say in policy-making cannot afford to alienate themselves from any party. The political marginalisation of the American Muslim community after 9/11 has been devastating at the national level, though it has actually improved at the local level. One critical example of this marginalisation is the complete absence of American Muslim input in the 9/11 commission’s investigations and their subsequent report; a report, which will shape the policies of the government regardless of which candidate wins in November.”
Dr Khan said the endorsement of John Kerry was “nothing but insulting.” Shorn of its verbiage, this is what it meant, “We find nothing of merit in your positions, we are also piqued that you did not pamper and pursue us the ‘American Muslim leaders’ It is irrelevant that your campaign has reached out to a lot of other Muslim individuals and local organizations. Nevertheless we will vote for you but only to send a message to President Bush. We hope you will be grateful to us.”
Dr Khan said if he were John Kerry, he would make a note to emphasise to these “pompous ideologues” the fact that he would get a huge majority of the Muslim vote regardless of what the members of the task force say or do. He could only be expected to make sure that these organisations have little or no access to US policy-making. He would, instead, seek new and more humble voices from the Muslim community to include in policy deliberations as in the campaign. After all, there are many Muslims who are involved at local and national levels in the Kerry campaign, he pointed out. staff report