The Muslim vote

It’s no secret that many religious groups are looking to influence how people vote these days. Muslims are no different.

Yesterday, the Muslim American Society, a group based in Washington, D.C., announced new plans to get Muslims to register to vote — and to educate registered Muslims on issues of “Muslim interest” like immigration, civil liberties, health care and foreign policy. A new “website”: focuses on 30 races in 11 states where there are large Muslim populations.

Republicans and Democrats have shown real interest in the growing Muslim vote in recent years, as both parties promote issues that might appeal to the Muslim community. Muslims are generally quite conservative on what are known as the “moral value” issues, but are extremely critical of American foreign policy, particularly — no surprise here — in the Middle East.

Polls show that most Muslims voted for President Bush in 2000, but that the Muslim community largely abandoned him in 2004 after the Iraq war began.

MAS is calling on all Muslims to register and vote this year. “Islam mandates every Muslim to be unequivocally committed to social justice,” a statement from the group said. “Civic engagement may be the most powerful way to fulfill that mandate in a democracy.”

Gary Stern

Gary Stern covered education in the Lower Hudson Valley for several years during the early 1990s. Now's he back on the beat. He believes that schools are one of the main reasons that people live around here and that educational issues -- from curriculum to financing -- are among the most challenging things that journalists can write about. He continues to be amazed by the complexity of educational jargon. Gary got his B.A. at SUNY Buffalo and his M.A. from the University of Missouri Journalism School (where his master's thesis was about the best ways to cover education). He lives in White Plains with his wife and two sons, who attend public schools.