Viewpoint from a Muslim American Democrat

September 20, 2008

The following is a piece by guest contributor Khurrum Wahid, a criminal defense and civil rights litigation attorney with offices in New York and Miami, who also serves as the Chair of the Center For Voter Advocacy, a registered 527 organization. He is also on the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers National Security Law committee, and a founding member of the Florida Muslim Bar Association.

MAKE THE AMERICAN MUSLIM VOICE RELEVANT, VOTE OBAMA

I am voting for Senator Barack Obama. While that sounds like a simple statement, it did not come about simply. I make my decision based upon specific candidates and what they stand for rather than just the party they belong to.

As a criminal defense and civil rights attorney, I have spent the last eight years fighting against unjust and discriminatory policies put forth by the Bush administration. A short list of the worst offenses: Iraq, Guantanamo, torture, rendition, failed diplomacy, special registration of immigrants from nations with predominantly Muslim populations, informants spying in mosques, entrapment, no fly and watch lists, eroding the First Amendment and our privacy rights, reducing the ability of courts, and increasing the power of the executive leading to no accountability and no oversight.

Sen. Obama has made clear he will fight to reverse the course of the Bush administration on most of these aforementioned missteps. Sen. Obama is against racial profiling, will work to end the disparate sentences that many minorities are afflicted with in the criminal justice system, and end the politicization of the Department of Justice. Justice must not depend on your race, religion or party affiliation. Instead of spending billions of dollars on bombing people half way around the world Sen. Obama offers a foreign policy that combines true diplomacy with a narrowly tailored and more effective military option. With the savings Sen. Obama plans to help us properly educate our children, children who will compete with the world’s best yet still have ethical standards that will prevent the economic crisis we now face. Sen. Obama has proposed a healthcare plan that will benefit patients and health professionals while not excluding our most needy neighbors, as is the American Muslim way.

So while I am disappointed that the Obama movement does not seem to want any association with Muslims, I recognize this is the result of the fear mongering tactics of the far right. I hope that Sen. Obama will use the remaining seven weeks to prove me wrong. If elected, I hope he will support American Muslims have a voice in healthcare and domestic security issues, and that he will consider qualified American Muslims for Ambassador positions.

We must make a difference in this campaign for the sake of our future and our children. We must become a force to be respected in American politics.

Coming out strong for Senator Obama will accomplish two things. First, we say "Give me back my country. Give me back the America that was respected around the world and made me feel like I belonged." Second, the American Muslim community will earn our right to demand a voice in policy and creating a better America for all of us.

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