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Archive for Monday, September 27, 2004

Council urges Muslims to vote

September 27, 2004

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— Voting is a civic duty for all Americans and a religious duty for Muslims, speakers said at the Heartland Muslim Council's annual dinner.

"We want every adult who is an American citizen to register to vote," the council's president, Mahnaz Shabbir of Overland Park, Kan., told an audience of about 250 Saturday night at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

The dinner's keynote speaker, Imam Omar Hazim of the Islamic Center of Topeka, Kan., said the Quran's concept of "mutual consultation" has parallels in the political process.

"Anyone subject to the mutual consultation should have the ability to express themselves," Hazim said. "To conduct your affairs as a Muslim without mutual consultation is a violation of the laws established by God."

The dinner also included a speech by Dick Kurtenbach, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Kansas and western Missouri.

Muslims in America, Kurtenbach said, have had their civil liberties eroded by the USA Patriot Act passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The Heartland Muslim Council has been speaking out against terrorism and the loss of civil liberties, most recently in a guest column Shabbir wrote last week for the Kansas City Star and sent to other news organizations, including The Associated Press.

"Our statements here cannot change what is going on over there," she wrote. "We can, however, influence what is going on here, and we are."

On Saturday, Shabbir again denounced terrorist acts -- especially those done in the name of Islam.

"We refuse to allow our faith to be held hostage by the criminal actions of a tiny minority acting outside the teachings of both the Quran and the Prophet Mohammed," she said.

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