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US Mosques Sign Up Voters

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    U.S. Muslims bring voter registration to mosques By Ed Stoddard Reuters Friday, September 29, 2006
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 2, 2006
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      U.S. Muslims bring voter registration to mosques
      By Ed Stoddard
      Reuters
      Friday, September 29, 2006
      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/29/AR2006092900
      801.html


      DALLAS (Reuters) - American Muslims are setting up voter registration
      booths in mosques across the United States, echoing a tactic employed
      by evangelical Christians to support conservative Republican
      candidates. Their target: close contests where Muslim voters could
      make a difference. "We have set up booths in 150 mosques across the
      country in the past two weeks," said Mukit Hossain, a political
      consultant to the Muslim American Society which is behind the drive.

      The booths have a computer monitor with a link to a Web site
      http://www.masvip.org/ to enable Muslims to register on line during
      Friday prayers. Hossain said about 10,000 were estimated to have been
      registered to date but he expected "tens of thousands" more to be
      signed up before crucial midterm elections on November 7 that will
      decide which party controls Congress during President George W. Bush's
      final two years in office.

      Those numbers are small compared to estimates of over 2 million
      registered Muslim voters nationwide but the drive is targeting areas
      where a few voters can determine the outcome -- another echo of
      evangelical Christian political activism.

      "We have looked and said do we have enough Muslims to impact this
      race? And secondly what are the issues, how important are they for the
      Muslim community and where do the candidates stand?," Hossain said.
      One race he highlighted was District 8 in Arizona, where he said the
      Muslim community was sizable and had concerns about the
      anti-immigration tone of Republican candidate Randy Graf, who is
      running to replace an outgoing moderate Republican in a closely
      watched House contest.

      "The Virginia Senate race is another one because you have 52,000
      Muslim voters there and in a tight race they can make a difference,"
      said Hossain, who is also president of the Muslim American Political
      Action Committee.

      He said U.S. Muslims were concerned about Republican Sen. George
      Allen's record on civil liberties. A survey of Muslim voters last year
      showed the political issues that concerned them most were the
      perceived erosion of civil liberties since the September 11 attacks,
      the hardening of immigration laws and U.S. foreign policy in the
      Middle East, Hossain said.

      The next priorities on their list are more mainstream, middle-class
      concerns: education and health care. Many Muslims are socially
      conservative and agree with their evangelical Christian counterparts
      on a range of issues such as outlawing abortion and banning same-sex
      marriage.

      Politically motivated Christians have for the past three decades been
      using the pulpit as a platform to get voters to the polls to support
      conservative candidates.

      Hossain said American Muslims were not simply copying this strategy
      but felt compelled to take their political activism to the mosque in
      the wake of Sept 11. (although the practice began before then. -WVNS)

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