Haidar with the U.S. Surgeon General, Regina Benjamin, October 2011
While in 2008 I didn’t follow the Presidential elections, I did get a chance to attend President Obama’s inauguration and it was inspiring. Reflecting back I believe strongly that President Obama performed well given that he inherited the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, two wars that had no end in sight and a international community that no longer saw America as a leader but rather a bully and in some instances an aggressor.
Given the state of our nation, I am thankful that President Obama was re-elected for a second term. I think this election highlighted the role American Muslims can play in national politics; especially what Muslim college students can contribute as well.
Many Muslim organizations encouraged political engagement through voting. For example the California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations released their voter guidebook, which was a means of helping Muslims see how Congressional represented voted on key legislative areas that reflect the communities interest. Similarly, the Muslim Student Association, West regularly communicated to the thousands of students across the West Coast about voting, various propositions impact to student life as well as basic information found in voter guides.
The future of American Muslim political organizing will remain consistent with past election cycles because the overall national issues are predominately focused on the continuing economic challenges.
While the American Muslim community desires to organize around political issues like closing Guantanamo and ending the unprecedented use of drones in Pakistan and Yemen, it would seem impractical.
However, with the large number of young college age Muslims becoming politically engaged there will be an impetus for national organizations to gain political maturity in order to engage and stay relevant to this new crop of activists.
Read other perspectives here.
Haidar Ali Anwar is a third year undergraduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) studying Political Science. He is the MSA West President which is a non-profit organization representing the Muslim Student Association across the West coast of the United States. Haidar is also a Senior Field Organizer for the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR)- Greater Los Angeles Area chapter.