Muslim Pols Push for Grassroots Participation

The American Muslim Council Political Action Committee organized a dinner in which elected representatives encouraged the community to get politically involved at the local level. (Photo via News India Times)

The American Muslim Council Political Action Committee organized a dinner in which elected representatives encouraged the community to get politically involved at the local level. (Photo via News India Times)

Getting Muslims involved in the political process, particularly at the grassroots and local level, was the theme of a meeting in central New Jersey that saw around 75 high-profile Muslims, elected officials and others, reports Ela Dutt of News India Times.

Attendees, including Congressman Andre D. Carson (D-Ind.), the second Muslim elected to Congress, and New Jersey Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula, discussed the importance and means of empowering Muslims. They also explored why Muslim Americans shy away from getting active in politics.

At the American Muslim Council Political Action Committee (AMPAC) dinner on September 7 at the Shahi Palace in Woodbridge, N.J., Carson pushed the Muslim audience, many of South Asian origin, to get politically engaged by working from the local level.

It is vital for Muslims and South Asians to be politically active and to engage the younger generation in the political process, Carson said. Starting from local school boards and town committees, Muslims could raise enough funds to be able to contribute to campaigns and influence results in elections, Carson said.

Political activist Sam Khan, of AMPAC, told the publication that “Muslims in America feel isolated and afraid because they are looked upon as potential terrorists.” He went on to say that first and foremost, Muslims are American and want to work with other religious groups.

“We are a peace-loving community who include doctors and lawyers and we are Americans no matter where we come from. The Muslim community has an interest in reaching out to other communities be they Christians, Hindus, or Jews, to work together.”

Chivukula echoed Carson’s emphasis on getting involved. What the community should concentrate on is “the town and planning board and school board elections, Chivukula said, because those bodies adopt policies that directly impact the day-to-day lives of people and where political empowerment can be initiated.”

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