Muhammad Ali Hasan talks to Vibes Editor-in-Chief Aisha F. Sarwari about the Patriot Act and why Muslims should vote for Bush.
President Bush has a long history of having close Muslim friends, including a Palestinian suitemate from Yale. So even without the Hasan family, Muslims will always get wonderful things from President Bush.
VIBES: Why should Muslims vote for Bush when they have seen their civil rights infringed upon under a McCarthist anti-Muslim propaganda after 9/11?
ALI HASAN: Great question, as this concern is often the leading cause of anxiety among all American Muslims today. Let us get one fact straight though. As of right now, we can only count one American Muslim citizen who is being held under the Patriot Act. Yes, that is one too many, and surely we are pushing for his trial to take place, but he is currently the only Muslim that is being held under any type of secret evidence.
With that in mind, we feel that President Bush’s management of civil rights has been extremely responsible, considering the terrorist attacks that took place, especially when you compare it to how the Japanese Americans were treated after World War 2. Our fear lies within John Kerry, who wrote parts of the Patriot Act, fought for it upon the Senate Floor, and voted for it. In order for Kerry to improve upon the Patriot Act’s management, he would have to let go of the one American Muslim currently being held, and not arrest anyone else.
Considering that John Kerry wants to make the Patriot Act stronger than even President Bush wants it to be(1), we feel that Kerry’s management of the Act will be horrible for Muslims.
Under President Bush, we truly feel that under his leadership, civil rights are getting better everyday. Let us not forget that President Bush was the first President to ban all forms of racial profiling at a Federal Level(2).
VIBES: Many Muslims, find themselves locked up simply on suspicion. Explain what safeguards Muslims have in terms of Bush looking out for Muslim interests in the future? - Why do you pin the draconian patriot act on Kerry, and not the Bush Administration under which it is implemented?
ALI HASAN: Many Muslims find themselves locked up on suspicion? That is news to us. We have vigorously looked for cases, in which, Muslims are being held without evidence. As mentioned above, we only know of one John Doe case, in which an American Muslim citizen is being held with secret evidence. The idea that there. are 1,000’s of Muslims being held, without evidence, is not true. However, we are always concerned about such things, as we do not support the parts of the Patriot Act that infringe upon civil rights. In turn, if anyone hears of a Muslim that is imprisoned, without evidence, then feel free to contact us at MuslimsForBush@mac.com, where we can present that case to the administration.
As mentioned above, we blame John Kerry for the Patriot Act, more than President Bush, mainly because he wrote parts of it, fought for it on the Senate Floor, and voted for it. Let us not forget that almost every single Democrat and Republican voted for this Act. So to blame Republicans for this Act alone, would be a mistake. Yes, there were some politicians who voted against it, like Democrat Senator Feingold, which further begs the question of why liberals like John Kerry felt compelled to vote for it?
In that regard, we feel that civil rights will improve, on a day-to-day basis, under President Bush. Nothing is going to become perfect overnight, but in time, it will. In constantly meeting with Muslim groups and leaders, President Bush has already showed a tenacity of wanting to reach out the Muslim community. I believe it was right after the first rounds of the immigration checks that the Bush Administration invited many American Muslim leaders into the White House, for the purposes of consulting with them on how the immigration checks could be better handled next time – the next round of checks saw zero arrests.
On the other hand, John Kerry has no Muslim staffers, his only meetings with Muslims have been over campaign contributions and endorsements, and his outreach has been dead, at best. Senator Ted Kennedy, himself, is proof that you can be friendly with Muslims, and still be extremely popular in Massachusetts and the Democratic Party. If America’s most liberal Senator refuses to outreach with us as a Senator, then what exactly will be his response to us as a President?
VIBES: Why are student, professional and visitor visas being denied to people from Muslim countries, if Bush is sincere about promoting education and modernity in the Muslim world?
ALI HASAN: Once again, the question above is news to us. Yes, there certainly were some immigration problems, right after the horrible attacks of 9-11. However, today, we are back at the normal immigration levels of before.
Government statistics show that levels of deportation increased after 9-11, but have now dropped significantly. The number of new United States citizens has remained equal. And most shocking, the number of denied citizenship applications has decreased by fifty percent(3). So to say that America has become less immigrant friendly under President Bush would be a complete lie.
However, as we mentioned above, with his lack of outreach and his hardline stance towards wanting to punish the Muslim World, we have deep fears that Senator Kerry could put a stop to much Muslim immigration. We have seen what four years of President Bush holds. Immigration and civil rights have been just fine. Why take a risk with Kerry?
VIBES: Why do you stand by language that demeans Muslims, when Bush uses terms such as "Axis of Evil" and "crusade"? Don't you feel this "them vs. us" culture is propagating the wrong message and increasing anti-Americanism?
ALI HASAN: We agree that such language is more alienating than it is uniting. Which is why President Bush deserves even more credit, in this case. Terms like “crusade” and “Axis of Evil” were used once and never used again. Clearly, the President realized a mistake was made
and he did his very best never to use terms like that again.
If we really want to judge President Bush, based upon the things he has said, then clearly, there is not a more Pro-Muslim, American, politician within our country today! President Bush has repeatedly called Islam a “religion of peace,” in addition to speaking of the fact that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. And many of his statements are aimed more at his constituency of right wingers, than they are at Muslims.
Senator Kerry, on the other hand, has often alienated Muslims even more terribly with his words. In one debate, he offered the solution of sending more “Muslim speaking” soldiers to Iraq. In the first Presidential Debate, he referred to terrorists, not as terrorists, but as “Islamic Muslims.” Unfortunately, we here at Muslims For Bush question whether Kerry even made a mistake or not?
VIBES: "Muslims for Bush" is accused of being a "Hasans for Bush" campaign, where only one rich family is getting the limelight for making a handsome contribution. Can you explain in real terms what values Muslims get out of contributing to Bush as your family has done?
ALI HASAN: We have never had to worry about appeasing President Bush, with regards to Muslims. President Bush has a long history of having close Muslim friends, including a Palestinian suitemate from Yale. So even without the Hasan family, Muslims will always get wonderful things from President Bush.
However, at this point in time, many Republicans and Democrats are wary of Muslims. Contributing to anyone’s campaign sends a strong message. In that way, it is important for all Senators and Congressmen/women, on both sides of the aisles, to see contributions coming in from Muslims. And most importantly, they need to see Muslims going to the polls to vote!
Such actions are the only ways we will be included within legislation writing, not just in the White House, but in the House and Senate, as well.
VIBES: Do you think you have an edge over the "Muslims for Kerry" campaign?
ALI HASAN: The beauty of the World Wide Web is that everyone has a website. I encourage our readers to visit all political websites of interest, thus empowering your readers with the chance to decide who has the “edge”.
VIBES: Your booth was vandalized at the ISNA convention. Why do you think people are so infuriated at your endorsement of a candidate Muslims bloc voted for last time?
ALI HASAN: First off, I do not want the good people of ISNA to be characterized as belligerent people, who refused to be open minded towards all political thought. The mass majority of the people at ISNA came to pick up our editorial, seek more information, and voice their concerns to us. Yes, some people were angered, but certainly, I would never allow anyone to think that “infuriated” people constituted as the majority at ISNA. The majority were extremely friendly, very open minded, and only guilty of further educating themselves upon the issues of this election.
With regards to the question though, it is easy to be alienated, as a Muslim, when there are two wars taking place in Muslim countries. However, we are confident that history will prove that the right decisions were made.
A world without Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden, and the Taliban are all wonderful things; and had those people continued to stay in power, we genuinely feel that the number of future Muslim casualties would far exceed the current figures.
Let us not forget that it is John Kerry who promotes having wars against Iraq and Afghanistan, but continually votes against sending aid to the people of those countries. Whether you agree with war or not, we can all agree that President Bush did the right thing by sending aid to both countries and sending his promises of rebuilding. Our fear is that John Kerry Presidency would officially signal the end of aid to the Muslim World.
At this point in time, it is Senator John Kerry who voted against sending $18 billion in aid to Iraq, voted against sending $2 billion in aid to Afghanistan, wrote the act to sanction Syria, and now, wants to punish Pakistan.
VIBES: Do you think your efforts will be fruitful in terms of getting Bush reelected based on the Muslim Vote? Aren't Muslims too marginal and politically inactive a community to be counted?
ALI HASAN: It was this wonderful website, Naseeb.com, which published my article ‘American Muslims – The Ultimate Battleground State.’ I am convinced that American Muslims will be deciding who wins this election, mainly because most of us are undecided. We have gigantic populations in every battleground state, and our voting bloc is in a position now to decide who wins.
The most important statistic on election day though is the following: how many American Muslims voted? Every member of Congress and Senate will be seeing those numbers, and their policy decisions will certainly keep that in mind.
I have always remained true to this fact – I do not mind if anyone votes for Kerry or Nader, but please make that decision after visiting MuslimsForBush.com. Even if we cannot convince you, we still want you to vote.
As far as being fruitful, we are flying sky high! We are receiving emails from people whose minds are changing, both Muslim and non-Muslim. The truth is getting out there, thanks to all the folks out there who are continuing the debate, causing discussion, and doing their best to educate others. We have a few more weeks to go – let us make sure that our voting decisions are based upon truth and not trend. Doing so will guarantee that the best person is elected!
VIBES: In a nutshell, why should Muslims to vote for President Bush?
ALI HASAN: Who do we want in office? The candidate who has built an alliance with Pakistan, speaks of creating Palestine, gives record amounts of aid to Muslim countries, and has responsible management of the Patriot Act – or John Kerry, who speaks of punishing Pakistan, promoting Israel over Palestine, stopping aid to Muslim countries, and ‘strengthening’ the Patriot Act, beyond what President Bush wants it to be? President Bush is right for Muslims on every single issue.
(2) DOJ Press Release, "Justice Department Issues Policy Guidance to Ban Racial Profiling," 06/17/2003
The opinions expressed in this article are of the author and not necessarily of Vibes.