Why American Muslims Should Support Dennis Kucinich for President

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Editor’s Note: Mr. Dennis Kucinich, external links, or the author’s viewpoints.

Muslims in America have been in a state of siege and it seems to be getting worse rather than better. Increasing numbers of Americans have negative views of Islam [1] and increasing numbers of Muslims are experiencing harassment or worse [2]. Much of the blame for this has to lie with the Bush Administration and its “war on terrorism”. Not only do policies such as the Patriot Act, round-ups and detentions of Muslim immigrants, and over-hyped arrests of “sleeper cells” damage those Muslims caught up in them, these policies also create a sense for Americans that Muslims are aliens, enemies within. [3]

The Bush Administration’s foreign policies have also negatively affected Muslims. First and foremost are the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq. The United States has also given unreserved support to Israel, Russia, and India in their campaigns against the Palestinians, the Chechens, and the Kashmiris, respectively, all in the name of the “war on terrorism”. Despite reassurances to the contrary by Bush and others, it seems that the war on terrorism does not extend beyond Muslim targets.

None of what I’ve said so far should be news to anybody. We all know it and despair over it. We wonder if there’s anything we can do to stop it or to change it. The good news is, there is something that we can do as Muslims in America. That something is to vote.

But wait! Isn’t voting haram? Doesn’t it mean supporting a kufr system? Muslims who seek to become politically active will hear this one a lot. So let’s deal with it head on. Shaykh Muhammad al-Munajjid, a very conservative Saudi scholar, was asked about voting in elections in a non-Muslim country [4]. He replied:

It may be the case that the interests of Islam require Muslims to vote so as to ward off the greater evil and to reduce harmful effects, such as where two candidates may be non-Muslims but one of them is less hostile towards Muslims than the other, and Muslims’ votes will have an impact on the outcome of the election. In such cases there is nothing wrong with Muslims casting their votes in favour of the less evil candidate.

America is a democracy. Bush can be voted out and another president elected in his place. That other president may be someone who will bring benefit to Muslims. Or he may just be somebody who will do less harm to Muslims. In either case, by voting for this other president we will have done something to help the umma, even if it is a small thing. That is exactly what Shakyh Munajjid is talking about. Bringing benefit to the umma and reducing harm.

The election is still over a year away, so why am I writing this now? Because we have an even greater opportunity than just voting Bush out of office. We can also help select who his opponent will be on Election Day 2004. There are nine Democratic candidates for President. We can examine each of them and give our support to the one we feel will bring the most benefit or do the least harm to Muslims.

That brings me to the topic that forms the title of this article: why Muslims should support Dennis Kucinich for president. You probably haven’t heard of Dennis Kucinich. The media are ignoring his campaign. They probably wish he would just go away. What he’s saying isn’t popular with those in power. So let me tell you a little bit about Dennis Kucinich.

Dennis Kucinich is the only one of the Democratic candidates who voted against the Patriot Act. He has promised that as president he will repeal it [5]. As a member of Congress, he will be introducing legislation in September to start rolling it back.

Dennis Kucinich is also the most vocal opponent of the Iraq war among the Democratic candidates. He first began speaking against it in July 2002. He mobilized 126 Democrats in the House of Representatives to vote against the use of force authorization. He marched in the antiwar rally on February 15. He continues to call for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq [6]. He is also pursuing the Bush Administration vigorously about the false and misleading claims it made to promote the war.

Dennis Kucinich also opposes Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. He believes there can be no peace in the Middle East without justice for the Palestinians. He has even taken part in a teach-in to his fellow members of Congress to counteract the influence of AIPAC, the pro-Occupation lobbying group [7]. He is the only one of the Democratic candidates to hold this view.

A Kucinich presidency would be a great change for the better for Muslims in America, and even for Muslims abroad. No, he isn’t perfect. His views on social issues are more liberal than the views of most Muslims. But I think that the benefit he can bring greatly outweighs any harm. And we are going to face that problem with any Democratic candidate, without getting as much benefit.

If we want to see Dennis Kucinich as the Democratic candidate for President in 2004, we have to start supporting him now. Speaking up for him in our communities and convincing people to vote for him in the primary elections. Giving our time, efforts, and money to his campaign. It’s a big commitment and it means more involvement with the American political process than some Muslims may be comfortable with.

This is a decision each of us must make for ourselves. What is the harm if we act, and what is the harm if we don’t act? What is the course of action that will bring the greatest benefit to Muslims and is it worth the price?

I sincerely believe that Dennis Kucinich can help the umma if he is elected president. He may not be in the end. But I don’t want to look back and say “if only I had spoken up, he might have been.”

Notes:

[1]. http://pewforum.org/publications/surveys/religion-politics.pdf

[2]. http://www.cair-net.org/downloads/crr2003-Sample.doc

[3]. http://www.villagevoice.com/issues/0328/pyne.php

[4]. http://63.175.194.25/index.php?cs=prn&ln=eng&QR=3062
&dgn=3&dgn=2

[5]. http://www.kucinich.us/issues/issue_10key.htm

[6]. http://www.kucinich.us/issues/issue_iraq.htm

[7]. http://www.tikkun.org/index.cfm/action/current/article/173.html

The writer is an American-born convert to Islam, work as a paralegal and run the pro-Kucinich weblog Muslims for Kucinich at http://www.muhajabah.com/muslims4kucinich. She contributed above perspective to Media Monitors Network (MMN) from Seattle, Washington, USA.

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