WASHINGTON — Seeking to make a bigger impact in American politics and to better protect their civil rights, 10 Muslim groups have banded together under a new umbrella group: the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations.
Many of the leaders of the new organization called the campaign for increased unity among Muslims an unprecedented step for the community, and one that could help weave Muslims more tightly into the fabric of American life.
“This is the dream of every American Muslim, to unify the approach, agenda and vision of the Muslim community,” said Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, at a Wednesday (March 12) announcement at the National Press Club.
“In the past, many people have tried to unite on a limited agenda, but this is a broad agenda for the American Muslim community.”
The council plans to advocate for issues important to American Muslims and to boost their voter registration. The idea is to give Muslims a bigger political platform in elections and society, and to leverage the community’s purchasing power.
The organizations in the council include some of the most active in Muslim-American life, including CAIR, the Islamic Circle of North America and the Muslim American Society.
Council members say their first charge is to conduct a census of Muslims in the U.S. to get a better handle on what issues Muslims care about most. They hope to complete it within two years, to help shape their agenda in the 2016 elections.
“Muslim voters have the potential to be swing voters in 2016,” said Awad. “We are aiming at that election to bring more participation from the Muslim community.”
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