Northwest Indiana Times: Survey shows Muslims flexing political muscle

Group is growing, young and politically active
As Election Day nears, local Muslim advocacy groups are working to get out the vote.

The Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago have been working to register more of the area’s approximately 400,000 Muslims to vote.

“The American-Muslim population is a growing population,” said Sadiya Ahmed, governmental relations coordinator for CAIR-Chicago. “It’s at a point where (the population is) becoming more politically aware.”

Earlier this week, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)released results from a national survey of 1,000 Muslim registered voters. About 89 percent of those surveyed said they vote regularly.

“Muslims are active in civic life and civic duty, and I’ve known it for a while, but it’s good when it’s public and reaffirmed,” Ahmed said.

The Muslim population is relatively young — 67 percent of respondents are between the ages of 25 and 54 — according to the survey. Sixty-two percent of respondents have a bachelor’s degree or higher and 43 percent have a household income of $50,000 or higher.

Forty-two percent of respondents said they consider themselves to be Democrats, versus 17 percent Republican and 28 percent with no party affiliation, according to the survey.

But American Muslim voters defy “simplistic labeling and maintain an independent streak…” CAIR national Executive Director Nihad Awad said in a news release.

According to the survey, 55 percent of respondents said they are afraid the war in Iraq has become a war on Islam. Only 12 percent said they thought the war in Iraq was a worthwhile effort and 10 percent said they support the idea of using the military to spread democracy in other countries.

CAIR-Chicago has focused its organizing efforts on Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District, which includes Chicago’s southwest suburbs, where it has registered 1,055 voters, Ahmed said Wednesday.

The council is encouraging Muslims to attend a Fall Action Assembly at Trinity High School in River Forest Sunday, organized by United Power, an umbrella organization of local community groups. The gubernatorial candidates have been invited to attend.

“The Muslim community needs to take part in everyday civic activity to set an agenda based on their needs,” Ahmed said.


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