Inland Muslims Sign on to Nationwide Voter Registration Push

October 1, 2008

Author: David Olson

Source: The Press-Enterprise

Hanna Shafik has been a U.S. citizen for 13 years. The Egyptian-born woman always meant to register to vote but didn't do so until Wednesday, when she spotted a voter-registration table at the Ontario Convention Center after leaving prayers for Eid ul-Fitr, which celebrates the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

"People need to know that we have rights too, that they can't ignore us," Shafik, 38, said after filling out a registration form.

Voter-registration tables were set up across the country outside Eid prayers as part of a Council on American-Islamic Relations effort to increase Muslim voter turnout.

At the table in Ontario on Wednesday, a CAIR poster had a list of concerns for many Muslims, such as: "Why do they link Islam with Fascism?" "How can I protect the rights of immigrants?" and "Why do they harass us at the airport?"

"If you don't vote, don't complain," the poster concludes.

Hussam Ayloush, executive director of CAIR's southern California office, said he believes Muslims are upset at being used as political punching bags in campaigns, especially by Republicans.

"Muslims are saying enough is enough," he said. "We demand to not be treated as second-class citizens anymore. They're going to respond to the rhetoric with their votes. They understand that's how it works in this country."