Islam in America – Muslims and Public Policy

Introduces panelists:
moderator: Jocelyne Cesari – Harvard – works with EC on Islam, religions, race and rights
Charles Dunbar – prof. of int’l relations at simmons college – former ambassador to yemen and qatar – writing book on whether western sahara would be independent or part of morocco while working for UN – charge d’affaires in afghanistan
Muqtedar Khan – Brookings Institute Fellow – US Foreign Policy towards Muslim World – VP of Assoc. of Muslim Social Scientists
Amaney Jamal – Asst. Prof. at Princeton – Arab-American community in Detroit – dissertation on Palestinian Americans [didn’t get all the details]

Uncomfortable: 45 years ago learned that there were people in room smarter than him; concerned that he is not an expert on islam in america – deals with islam and america; sees prospect for islam in america as bleak in short run.

[leaving room]

[returning to room]

Talking about 9/11. Impact on foreign relations with Arab countries. Shift in policy with regards to Israel. Little coverage in the press about unilateral withdrawal from Gaza. Sees it is a poor stop-gap measure. Will not address root cause of conflict, but will allow excuse for US to withdraw.

Massive impact on intellectual capital of US as students can’t come in, or are afraid to come in to US.

Democratizing Middle East: would be pained if he were to be democratized. Doesn’t see incompatibility between democracy and Islam. Thinks many Arab countries were slowly moving towards democractization. Thinks Iraq was a mistake because of its indication of the weakness of US foreign policy. Richard Perle says about Hosni Mubarak “We can do better than that.” Incredibly patronizing. Makes people who dislike Mubarak now support him.

Nice for former US official to finally be able to say “Palestine” without committing political suicide.

Muslims in US mistaken in ways they approach policy issues. Have not done it seriously. Exception is Arab-American Institute which does represent some Muslims.

Muslims now officially outnumber Jews and the numbers continue to grow.

US gov’t position towards Muslims has improved greatly starting in the 1990s. This administration is taking positive steps.

Muslims entering body politic. [are they representing Islam though?]

Feels compelled to say Libya-US relations recently is remarkable. Gives credit to this administration and to the UK.

Maybe Iraq will turnout fine.

Salaams. Peace to all of you.
Always get nervous when he has to speak. Giving speeches is like producing babies. Fun to conceive, difficult to deliver.
What is metaphor to describe being American and Muslim? Why are we American?
Relationship with America is like relationship with wife: he shares two children with both of them.
Defining American Muslim. Mosque-centered Muslims (2 out of 7), out of two groups both have members that consider themselves America, so there is a population that is in America, often vitriolic in their attacks on Islam.
American Muslims are those who take part in American politics.

American Muslims in American public policy:
role of individuals in policy
how policy affects muslims
how muslims affect policy

Few individuals in key areas. In the second-circle of power, but not in the first. Fundraising is another key area to buy access to first circle. Leader of representational body like CAIR also in second power. Term for that relationship called “taking a Muslim for lunch.”

Muslims are systematically indifferent to public policy in US unless it is tailored for them, so domestic policies are ignored. Immigration, PATRIOT ACT bring Muslims out. [since we are not involved until then, can we even make a difference on these issues?]. Do not participate in the production of thought in this country. Take services and rights for granted, essentially free-riders. No engagement of debates on public good, very narrow focus on self. Do not “enjoin good and forbid evil.”

Do not know anything about policy priorities of Muslims. Are there differences? Do Af-Am Muslims have a different interest than other Af-Ams? Other Muslims? What we want is determined by who we are. We spend too much time defining who we are and not on what we want. George Soros is considered to have a more developed foreign policy than all of Muslim Americans. Our foreign policy is defined by two issues: Palestne and Kashmir. We have no domestic policy.

American Muslim community driven by concern of preserving Muslimness in children. Most mosques are only open on Fridays. Wastes money. Policy budget is only $5million. Mosque building money is significantly larger. $200 million in Michigan and Toledo alone.

Before 9/11 insecure in our Muslimness. After 9/11 have realized that it is Americaness that is truly in danger.

Muslims don’t understand distinction between policy and politics. Can we write a policy paper on any topic? Even Palestine?

Political ploys: Fasteste growing religion in US and world. Veiled threat to say pay attention to us or else. Other tool is myth of voting bloc. Attempt to prove that there is an American identity. Have also shifted discourse to Abrahamic faiths.

Creation of think tanks that don’t necessarily mention Islam in title. Optimistic about dual engagement at the individual and community level.

Muslims in New York Project: role of mosques in the civic and political incorporation of Muslim Americans
Mosques as providing channels of political participation and entering public sphere.
Targeted in Brooklyn, NY.
Two mosques: Turkish and Arab.
Carried out after 9/11. How did it affect identity and patterns of participation?
Mosques can marginalize, but working in Detroit realized that politics come home in mosque b/c that’s where politicians look.
Crimean Turkish Mosque also in study, but not discussed today.
Ten researchers in field. Spoke to members and imams.
Basic demographics:
46.5% Arab
43% Turkish
62% male
38% female [women don’t come to mosque; also in business district, so not necessarily convenient for women]
higher income than nat’l average
only 1% unemployment

Discrimination and perceived discrimination :
verbal insults:
Arab 43%
Turks 13% (was target religion or race? seems to be race.)
has discrimination increased since 9/11?
A 76%
T 41%
concerns about future for family
A 70%
T 55%

US home?:
A 53%
T 40%

after 9/11?:
A 85% less than before
T 96% less than before

[more statistics on discrimination. can’t keep up.]

Muslims don’t affect policy, but spend lots of time and energy on improving image of Islam. Argues that’s what’s keeping Muslim from getting involved in policy.


muslim issues:
vote for candidate supportive of muslims:
A 85%
T 70%

media biased?:
A 85%
T 85%

mosque and mosque involvement:
viewed with suspicion. cuts donations and prayers. Rep. King (NY) says 85% of all mosque goers are tied to terrorism.
confidence in mosque: 47.7%
confident in police: 42.44%
confidence in gov’t in DC: 10%

[really interesting stats on mosque involvement, but the numbers are just flying.]

2 thoughts on “Islam in America – Muslims and Public Policy

  1. Confidence in political parties: 6.22%, Islamic Advocacy Groups: 24.11%, Has discrimination increased after 9-11, Arab: 76%, Turk: 41%
    Do you consider the US your home?
    Arab: 53%, Turk, 41%
    What about after 9-11?
    Less than before
    Arab 85%
    Turk 96%
    Would you vote for a candidate based solely on his/her support of Muslims?
    Arab: 85%, Turk 70%
    Would you vote for a candidate based on mosque endorsement?
    40% agree, 43.24% disagree..
    Sorry for messiness- running to conference now, seeya soon yankee 😉

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