Sunday, December 21, 2014   

  Home     About     Guest Editorials     Advertise     Blog     Site Map     Links     Contact      Subscribe RSS      Subscribe Email  
Home » General

Muslims urged to take greater role in civic life

22 March 2012 General 14 Comments Email This Post Email This Post
From left, Femiham Elkadi of Rutherford, Amal Maasarani of Washington Township and Summer Alhamash of Ridgewood attended the American Muslim Union 15th annual community brunch.

From left, Femiham Elkadi of Rutherford, Amal Maasarani of Washington Township and Summer Alhamash of Ridgewood attended the American Muslim Union 15th annual community brunch.

BY SCOTT FALLON, STAFF WRITER

TEANECK — North Jersey Muslim leaders called upon their community Sunday to become more civically engaged, starting with the simple act of voting, continuing with participation in secular community groups and eventually running for office.

At one of the biggest meetings of the faith in New Jersey since the New York police surveillance was exposed, the conversation at the 15th annual American Muslim Union’s Community Brunch focused on ways to combat such police practices through active participation at every level of government.

“Today we live in a world of Islamophobia,” Mohamed Younes, president of the AMU, told an audience of 400 Muslims and government officials. “It is only when we as Muslims have a voice in the government that we can make sure our rights are protected.”

The event brought together Muslims of all backgrounds, Arabs, Asians, Africans and more to the Marriott at Glenpointe. Some men wore traditional robes while others wore suits. Some women covered their hair with hijabs while others let their locks flow freely.

The message, though, was unified: More Muslims need to integrate themselves into every facet of American society, even if they feel like they are being pushed out. Public demonstrations and other acts of outrage can only go so far. “If you don’t get involved, guess what? You’re not going to get ahead,” said Hassaan Arshad, of Closter, a Pakistani native who has voted in almost every election since becoming a U.S. citizen.

Morad Abou-Sabe, a Rutgers biology professor and president of Arab American League of Voters of New Jersey, said Muslim participation in American life was at its highest before Sept. 11, 2001. But after the attacks by 19 terrorists from the Islamist militant group Al-Qaida that killed almost 3,000 people at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pa., “anything and everything that looked Arab or Muslim had become the enemy,” Abou-Sabe said.

A 2009 Gallup poll found that only 51 percent of young Muslim Americans ages 18 to 29 were registered to vote, the lowest of any major religion surveyed. About 65 percent of all U.S. citizens in that age group were registered.

Outside the hotel’s ballroom, voter registration applications were laid out on tables Sunday.

Mirza Ayub didn’t need one. He will be voting in his first presidential election this year, something the 22-year-old Little Ferry resident said is “the only way to speak loud.”

“I don’t think Muslims want special treatment, they just want fair treatment,” said Subhan Farooqi, aRidgewood lawyer. “And we can help ourselves by getting more involved.”

In an opening prayer, Rabbi Lawrence Zierler of the Jewish Center of Teaneck called on God to bless “the Jew, the Christian, the Muslim and all faith communities to be there for each other.”

The conference also drew some of the state’s top law enforcement leaders such as U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman, state Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa and Rick Fuentes, superintendent of the State Police. Fishman and Chiesa said in no way would they ever want police to spy on ordinary citizens just because of their religion.

The NYPD collected information on mosques, businesses and worshipers in Newark and targeted the Masjid Omar mosque in Paterson for surveillance, according to police documents made public last month by The Associated Press. The NYPD also monitored Muslim student groups at 16 Northeast colleges, including Rutgers University, according to the AP and police documents.

“As long as we’re in office, our organizations will be available to hear those complaints to talk about the right path and to make sure we all understand there is no conflict between effective policing and civil liberties,” Fishman said to applause. “We are a more secure and safer country when people’s civil liberties and civil rights are protected.”

Chiesa said he spoke to a Sunday school class he teaches about how they would feel if somebody was secretly writing down where they went, who was in church and who they associated with. The students “looked at me like I have three heads,” he said.

Fuentes said he wants to see more Muslims recruited into the state police.

“Please send your sons, your daughters when we have our recruiting drives,” he said. “The way to understand law enforcement better is to come into our ranks.”

Among the attendees was Manny Pavon, a Hindu, who accompanied a Muslim friend to the conference.

“I don’t want to see any religion discriminated against,” he said. “That’s not what this country is about.”

Email: fallon@northjersey.com

Original post: Muslims urged to take greater role in civic life

Share/Bookmark




14 Comments »

  1. The only way to push back against Islamophobia is for the Muslim Americans to get involved in politics, but also to become attorneys, journalists, and especially law enforcement. We need more Muslim police officers. It is said that Muslim parents often push their kids to be doctors and engineers…
    Muslims living in Europe need to also engage in the political life of Europe and push back against organized Islamophobia!

  2. Well said. It is encouraging to see this article. I have encouraged my husband to vote in every election.

    The Holy Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said that if something is not right, we should correct it.

    I think that with the free flowing anti-Muslim speeches by presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich, who said he would not hire a single Muslim if he was elected President, we are forced to redefine ourselves. While many view us as “backward immigrants” in a stereotypical way, we must be politically active. Unity, integrity and active political citizens will command respect.

    Not one presidential candidate showed any concern whether they had the Muslim vote. That should change.

  3. We are producing a film here in Maine about this very issue – http://homecountryfilm.com/

  4. This should be happening all over

  5. Really? I’m not even going to get into it.

  6. I’m all for it . If I like the man or woman. I’d still vote them muslim or not. The problem is unfortunately the radicals of , Islam have hi jacked the faith. The real Islamist the true people of the faith need to be the face of Islam. Like the real Christians not the tv ones or the crazys need to take back our faith.

  7. “The only way to push back against Islamophobia is for the Muslim Americans to get involved in politics”

    how about have muslim stop kiling people. where was all this islamophobia before 9/11? even after the first wtc bombing i don’t remeber there being any backlash against muslims. perhaps you need criley to explain the pyshcological impact on the tribe when 3000 people are killed in a dramatic fashion on one day.

    ““I don’t think Muslims want special treatment, they just want fair treatment,” said Subhan Farooqi, aRidgewood lawyer. that’s not what all the lawsuits say to me!!!! if muslims don’t what special treatment then why fight the “anti-sharia” laws????????

    ““We are a more secure and safer country when people’s civil liberties and civil rights are protected.”” no doubt. but these aren’t islamic ideas. islam is against civil liberties. this guy should read his koran. study his huhud.

  8. Yes, should be happening all over.. All great things start somewhere and this will motivate one another to do the same and open up to better opportunites.. bravo!

  9. hope it would be the first step to world free of racism!

  10. Radical Islam has not hijacked the faith Radical media only covers Radical views. If they did not give podium to these douchebags, they would never be heard of.

  11. Muslims in America AREN’T killing people. when they become an American citizen, they are no longer Iranian or Afghan or Saudi or anything. They are AMERICAN! For the most part, African leaders are corrupt and repressive. However, our own American President is, while not perfect, a capable leader of a civilized country, and has kept it running as such. Uganda outlawing homosexuality or Senegal forging it’s elections does not effect how well Obama leads. Similarly, no matter how many bombings there are in Afghanistan or stonings in Iran or forced marriages in Morroco, Muslims in America are not those people. Judge them for who THEY are, not by the actions of people on the other side of the world that happen to pray to a similar God. I’m Christian. Does that mean i’m a bad person because of what Kony is doing over in Central Africa? Do I have to have my pastor yell into a megaphone “JOSEPH KONY IS BAD” in order to confirm that I am a good person, along with every other Christian on earth? NO! That is ridiculous, just as it is ridiculous that people assume a Muslim automatically supports acts of terror and repression because they call they’re God Allah. So yes, Muslims of America speak up! vote! get involved! and show the world that you are not some terror-driven hive mind, but individuals, the majority of whom are good Americans like anyone else

  12. “Muslims in America AREN’T killing people. when they become an American citizen, they are no longer Iranian or Afghan or Saudi or anything. They are AMERICAN!” not very often but they keep trying. so we have to keep the conversation about islam to only actions of american citizens. that’s a pretty small sampling. what about 10million out of 1.5billiion? that’s only like a half of percent.

    here’s some local news out of tampa, maybe you missed it.

    “Naturalized US citizen Sami Osmakac” http://www.tampabaycriminallawyerblog.com/2012/01/terrorist-arrested-in-connection-with-plot-to-target-several-crowded-areas-in-tampa-with-explosives.html

    it would have really put a damper on my weekend if i had gotten blown up while having a guiness. have you never heard the term german-american, italian-american? the polish-american society? how about african-american? chinese-american? it’s not derogotory to say muslim-american or iranian-american. isn’t andre agassi iranian-american?

  13. Hello there, just became alert to your blog through Google, and found that it is truly informative.
    I am going to watch out for brussels. I will be grateful if you continue this in future.
    Numerous people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

  14. I don’t know whether it’s just me or if perhaps
    everyone else experiencing problems with your website.
    It looks like some of the text within your content are running off the screen.
    Can someone else please provide feedback and let me know if this is happening to them
    too? This could be a issue with my web browser because I’ve had this happen before. Thank you

Have your say!

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also subscribe to these comments via RSS.

Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>