Sunday, April 16, 2006

Muslims Favor The Democratic Party

An organization representing Muslims in Minnesota held its third annual convention at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
The women sat separately from the men and the Democrats spoke separately from the Republicans, but there was a mingling of politics and religion at two sessions at the third annual convention of the Muslim-American Society of Minnesota Saturday. MASM, which considers itself a religious, social, cultural, educational and charitable organization, provided a bit of all those things at various sites around the Minneapolis Convention Center. The two political sessions, each attended by several hundred people, were indeed segregated by party. Democratic candidates Mike Hatch (for governor), Amy Klobuchar (for U.S. Senate) and Colleen Rowley (U.S. House, second district) spoke at a late-morning session titled "Democracy in America: A return to our Democratic ideals."
Although the MASM is nonpartisan, Hesham Hussein, president of MASM who moderated the event, made his own Democratic leanings clear. "Every time we get slammed, we see a Republican fist behind it," he said. "Every time we get a pat on the shoulder, it's a Democratic hand doing it." Republicans Mary Kiffmeyer (seeking reelection as secretary of state), Jeff Johnson (candidate for attorney general ) and Lloyd Cybart (reelection to the state House) spoke in the afternoon on the theme "Building a More Diverse Minnesota: Is there room for Muslims?" Ikramul Huq, imam of the Muslim Community Center-- Masjid Al-Rahman in Bloomington, moderated and identified himself as an active Republican, but acknowledged that Muslims want reassurance that the GOP welcomes them in Minnesota. Speaking as a private citizen and as a state official, Kiffmeyer said: "Yes, you are welcome in Minnesota." And speaking as a Republican: "Yes, you are welcome in our party." Asked why the politicians were scheduled at separate events, Hussein said half jokingly: "There's enough violence without bringing Democrats and Republicans together."