In response to a very pointed question from a Tele-Mundo participant on broken promises on immigration during the late part of his campaign, President Obama was very clear in that he had made no explicit promise to discharge a favor to any one particular group. On the other hand, he suggested how he vowed to work on behalf of everyone and to attempt to solve some of the country’s major problems on behalf of all Americans.
For American Muslims, this idea is currently a bit abstract but likely in part due to the fact that in 2008 there was no one specific issue that was defined as our community’s cause celebre, at least with certainty. Yes, the civil libertarians assumed that spying on American citizens, deployment of agent provocateurs at mosques and the drone strikes with their large-scale toll on innocent civilians would cease to exist. But it didn’t happen and this phenomenon took to its natural course of progression in the light of national security discourse and perpetual culture of fear emanating out of Washington much to the disappointment of the said civil libertarians.
The lackluster response to Islamophobia, avoiding visitation of American Muslim mosques by the President and failure of Syria policy became obvious issues that were the source of significant disappointment. However, as in 2008, over 90% of Muslims (70% as suggested by a cursory Pew survey) once again voted for the President and surprisingly with some degree of enthusiasm. Once again, no clear-cut issue was defined as this community’s number one policy priority or demand. In the field of policymaking, this lack of definition for specifics usually wouldn’t yield the change desired.
Winning an election is just one step and perhaps the less important than organizing around specific issues immediately thereafter for the American Muslim community. The new Obama administration should not be abandoned as it was in 2008. The American Muslims need to remain steadfast and be the backbone while pushing it to deliver.
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Dr. Faisal Qazi is the President of MiNDS (Medical Network Devoted to Service), a Southern California based community development non-profit that provides specialty healthcare to uninsured and addresses food disparities in underserved communities. He is a Neurologist and an educator. His work is highlighted by a passion for social and civic activism. Follow on Twitter: @fqazi -Facebook: /faisal.qazi.7