It’s 2012 and we are still waiting for the promises of 2008 to be fulfilled. I get it. It’s frustrating. It makes us angry.
We feel like the community has been played for a fool. Instead of complaining about all of the promises that weren’t kept and all of the additional terrible things that have happened since- drones, wiretapping, passage of NDAA, and increased deportations – I want the American Muslim community and more specifically our institutions and activists to become more effective in doing something about it.
We are the jacks of all trades and masters of none. We are spread too thin and have no organizations focusing on specific issues.
Instead, we combat Islamophobia, encourage civic engagement, campaign to pass Muslim holidays in local school districts, and try to save stranded American citizens overseas – all in one organization.
In the next four years, I want to see our community become more sophisticated in our organizing. To start this process, we must map our resources, identify experts in different arenas, and invest in building institutions addressing particular priority areas.
In order to get there, the community also needs a national strategic plan. This might seem like a daunting task but the first step is for the leaders of the Muslim community to come to the same table, renew our intentions and be prepared to push a progressive agenda.
This agenda has to build on the political power and influence that the American Muslim community already has. A progressive agenda will ensure that it protects not only our community’s rights but also benefits other marginalized communities in the United States thereby putting into practice fundamental principles of Islam: to despise oppression, to speak out against injustice and to act toward changing inequality.
The time is now to act upon our principles.
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Linda Sarsour is a working woman, community activist, and mother of three. Ambitious, outspoken and independent, Linda shatters stereotypes of Muslim women while also treasuring her religious and ethnic heritage. She is a Palestinian Muslim American and a self-proclaimed “pure New Yorker, born and raised in Brooklyn!” Currently, she is the Advocacy and Civic Engagement Coordinator for the National Network for Arab American Communities and ACCESS and locally serving as the director of the Arab American Association of New York, a social service agency serving the Arab community in NYC.