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Jewish World Review
Oct. 28, 2004
/ 14 Mar-Cheshvan 5765
International Arab media crusaded for Kerry and American Muslims are heeding their call
They say a person can be judged by his friends
Over the past few months this column has discussed how the Arab and Iranian media have been following the upcoming presidential campaign. One common theme in the media has been to explicitly call on Arab and Muslim voters in the U.S. to vote for John Kerry. For example, in Egypt's Al-Ahram Weekly on April 18, Arab-Israeli Member of Knesset Azmi Bishara called on Arab-Americans to "rethink their alliance with Bush" and "shift their votes from Bush to Kerry."
More recently, on October 15 former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who last year stated that "Jews rule the world by proxy," called on Muslims in the U.S. to support John Kerry: "Vote Bush out of office. It is truly a [religious worship] that you would be performing…" He added that there is a duty to ensure that "Bush will not be able to determine our fate for four more years… I would like to appeal to you, the Muslim citizens and voters of America, to be united and to cast your votes against Bush, in the name of justice, in the name of Islam."
In an article titled "U.S. Muslims Urged to Back Kerry," Al Jazeera reported on October 24 how American Muslims are being encouraged to post a protest vote for John Kerry, even thought they do not particularly like him. The American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections was cited as one group calling on its members to vote against President Bush. This organization is an umbrella group, whose members include The American Muslim Alliance (AMA), Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), and other groups.
Many Arabs and Muslims living in America and writing in the Arab press are advised how to vote. Writing in Lebanon's Daily Star on August 20, Muqtedar Khan, a fellow at the Brookings Institute's Saban Center for Middle East Policy, called for Bush to leave office: "… What September 11 has done is give the Bush administration a blank check to act recklessly while responding to the fears and opportunities that presented themselves… Unfortunately the policies of the Bush administration have projected it as a major threat to international law and respect for human right." Khan summed up by stating, "Bush's policies have made America uglier without making it safer. Thank you, Mr. President, but no thank you. Its time for you to ride into the sunset, cowboy."
James Zogby, President of the Arab American Institute, writing in the Saudi daily Arab News on October 20th in a column titled "Why I'll Vote for Kerry," stated: "This November, I will vote for John Kerry for president of the United States… A dangerous and arrogant ideological group in the White House and the Pentagon lied our nation into war… The American people, the Iraqi people, the world, and our nation's image and standing in the world, are paying the price for this deceit and arrogance… I believe that Arab-Americans are better served by the … Democratic Party than they are by the Republican coalition that is driven by the religious right and neo-conservative ideologues."
An article in the Saudi Gazette on October 12 by Dr. Islam Abdullah, Director of the Muslim Electorates Council of America and of the Islamic Society in Nevada, quoted Muslim American voters such as Captain Shehzad Wahid of California, who similarly explained his disdain with "neo-conservatives" and members of the "Christian right," stating, "Kerry is better than Bush. I will vote for him." The writer explained that his "sentiments were expressed by Muslims all over the U.S.," who are particularly concerned that a second Bush term might produce "Supreme Court judges … representing neo-cons and Christian right."
In an article titled "Why I am Supporting John Kerry," Islam Siddiqui, who served in the Clinton administration as an undersecretary in the Department of Agriculture, wrote in Arab News on October 19: "It is time to end the 'Era of John Ashcroft,' and restore our civil liberties… It is clear that we cannot live under another four years of the Bush-Cheney-Ashcroft administration. John Kerry and John Edwards recognize that American Muslims are a vital part of the American mosaic… American Muslims and Arab-Americans cannot stand by the sidelines and allow an administration in the White House that will continue to trample on our civil liberties…"
As election day approaches, polls by Arab and Muslim American organizations suggest that Senator Kerry will receive the majority of their community's votes. As one Muslim American political activist was quoted by AlJazeera: "A lot of Muslims want to vote on principle for Nader… Most of the community is not excited about voting for Kerry… Unfortunately, we have no choice."
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Steven Stalinsky is Executive Director of The Middle East Media Research Institute (www.memri.org). Click here to comment on this column.
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