Muslims still have a long way to go in the political arena

"Secretary Clinton and Prince Mohammed bin Naif bin Abdulaziz Participate in a Signing Ceremony"

The media and politicians have sat up and started to take notice of Muslims ins the political arena but we've still got a long way to go.

Why? It seems that for every two steps forward, we move one step back.

Hillary Clinton's move forward then backwards

A case in point: in 1993, I was invited to lunch by America's first lady, Hillary Clinton. A nice gesture but there was a problem - it was Ramadan.

In response, I politely declined by writing her a letter explaining why I could not attend and how Muslims fast during Ramadan.

Fast forward a few years and Mrs. Clinton wasn't holding lunch at the Whit House for Muslims, during Ramadan, but something more accommodating - Iftar. This was later followed up by an Eid gathering there.

Another step forward was when Mrs. Clinton declared that she supported Palestinian statehood. In 1998, the first lady spurred controversy when, while speaking to a youth group in Geneva by satellite, remarked, "I think it will be in the long-term interests of the Middle East for Palestine to be a state." She added that it was "very important for the Palestinian people" and for the "broader goal of peace in the Middle East."

But last February, she decided to run for a seat in the Senate in New York, where Jews make up 12 percent of the electorate.

It seems this may have played a role in why Mrs. Clinton recently turned down $50,000 from the American Muslim Alliance, a Muslim political organization, for her campaign.

Two steps forward, one step back.

Bush still has not thanked us for our endorsement

Something similar is happening with Muslims and next week's US presidential elections.

Even though the AMPCC, representing one of the largest cross sections of Muslims in America announced its endorsement of George W. Bush as the next US president, we have yet to hear a thank you, a note of acknowledgment and appreciation for this support.

Moreover, while Bush has, according to the AMPCC been much more accessible to the Muslim American community than his competitors Al Gore of the Democratic Party and Ralph Nader of the Green Party (who has refused invitations to mosques and other Islamic gatherings), he recently blamed Arabs for the current oil crisis.

Two steps forward, one step back.

How Muslims can move more forward without going back

This is why Muslims must remember to vote on November 7 and support the endorsement by the American Muslim Political Coordinating Council Political Action Committee AMPCC. Not because everything Bush says is correct or because all of his policies can be supported. But because if we can show our political power at the ballot in this election, Insha Allah (if God wills) we will no longer have to move back for every step forward.

Rather, our voice will be recognized, legitimized, and the continuous disappointment we experience will be less because we will have to be taken seriously.

Muslims in America have taken one step forward with the endorsement of George W. Bush for president. Now, let's deliver the votes needed to ensure that either he wins or that his loss is lessened. This way, whether Bush wins or loses, Insha Allah, we will have taken two step forwards, with many more ahead in the future.

"Secretary Clinton and Prince Mohammed bin Naif bin Abdulaziz Participate in a Signing Ceremony (8386371525)" by U.S. Department of State from United States - Secretary Clinton and Prince Mohammed bin Naif bin Abdulaziz Participate in a Signing Ceremony. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Secretary_Clinton_and_Prince_Mohammed_bin_Naif_bin_Abdulaziz_Participate_in_a_Signing_Ceremony_(8386371525).jpg#mediaviewer/File:Secretary_Clinton_and_Prince_Mohammed_bin_Naif_bin_Abdulaziz_Participate_in_a_Signing_Ceremony_(8386371525).jpg

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