Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Community Reform: Muslim Mayor in New Jersey

Salaam alaikum,

However you feel about Muslims getting involved in politics, I thought this would be a great article to post since it evolves Muslims "putting their money where their mouth is."

Muslim triumphs over a smear to become mayor

Teacher will lead Prospect Park

Monday, November 14, 2005

BY WAYNE PARRY--Associated Press

The anonymous flier mailed to households in Prospect Park days before a new mayor was to be chosen was direct and devastating in its claims: A Muslim council member, one of three candidates for the post, was "a betrayer living among us" with ties to the 9/11 terrorists.

The mailing said Mohamed Khairullah "should not be living in our clean town" and "will try to poison our thoughts about our great country."
But the letter failed to derail his candidacy. The borough council chose Khairullah in a 4-0 vote Wednesday night, making him one of only two Muslim mayors in New Jersey.

"The people of Prospect Park are great people," said Khairullah, 30, a high school teacher. "I'm just happy to have this opportunity."
Arab-Americans and Muslims make up about 15 percent of the population in this half-square-mile borough in Passaic County. Hispanics account for about 40 percent, with Caucasians and African-Americans representing most of the remainder of the nearly 5,800 who live here.

The mayor's seat was vacated last month when Will Kubofcik stepped down because his family moved to Bloomingdale. The local Democratic Party nominated three candidates to fill the remainder of the four-year term, which expires next December. Khairullah, a Syrian native and former Saudi resident who was first elected to the council just two months after the 9/11 attacks, was one of the three nominees.

In the mailings, the anonymous author said Khairullah has made public comments "which show his ties to the people responsible for the horrible attacks of 9/11."

Khairullah called those claims baseless and disgusting, and said they endangered the safety of him and his family. He said the flier probably referred to -- and misrepresented -- comments he made at a pro-Palestinian rally in Paterson last year in which he said American Muslims need to do their part to effect change in the Middle East, either through political activism or economic boycotts.

"I just couldn't believe someone would stoop down to that level," he said. "It's one thing to attack me, but to attack me in terms that place my safety and the safety of those around me in grave danger is really low."
The mailing is similar to one that went out the night before the 2004 election to voters in Bedminster, accusing township committee candidate Zaheer Jan and his running mate of being funded by "foreign nationals, not local residents." Jan, who was born in India and grew up in Pakistan, said it was a scare tactic designed to make people fear he might have terrorist ties. He lost the election by 14 votes out of nearly 3,600 cast.

CONTINUED...Allahu akbar!

4 Comments:

Blogger ajsuhail said...

I also want to draw your attention to the latest issue of TIME magazine that has a very positive article on Abdul Magid, an Imam of a mosque near Washington DC.Hopefully,one of you that is tech savvy will be able to cut and paste a link to the article

12:46 AM  
Blogger altaf said...

That article on Magid has a positive spin to it because he works with the FBI in a way that he reports anyone he thinks is "suspicious" - including a guy he had wait in his office while he called the FBI on him.. So, the Time article calls him "moderate" and "progressive" --- sorry, but I would not go near such a masjid where i know the imam goes about reporting "suspicious" people to the FBI.

I live in a area that has seen primarily very poor African Americans and Latinos totally targeted in all kinds of horrible racist ways. There is also a very long and racist history of the FBI use of the COINTELPRO against communities of color - especially poor people. Magid's masjid is a 5 million dollar deal that serves rich people (according to the article). Not my cup of tea - sorry...

But hey, if this is "community progress" so be it... it a'int my community, thatz for sure.

Altaf

2:41 AM  
Blogger ajsuhail said...

Altaf,

To be fair, the article talked about a whole lot of things including his work with the FBI. I was more intent on highlighting his work with the youth in the community and having the guts to tackle some tough issues. I also endorse his call to reject violence and I think he is doing the right thing in advising our youth to shun extremism.The specific incident you refer to may have been a bad judgement call in retrospect, but it is preferable to err on the side of caution given the pressure Muslims face.I also do not see the harm in cooperating with the FBI as long as the Bureau is aware of the sensitivities involved and trained to take our concerns into account as Magid is trying to do. What is the alternative? A call to ghettoise yourselves? I fully endorse his view that Muslims are full and equal citizens of the US and should not feel reticent about participating in the public arena as also using the system to fight for and protect their rights.A failure to do so will only strenghthen the hands of the extremists on both sides of the spectrum including the usual band of Islamophobic suspects. And finally, I am put off by your comment that it is a rich man's mosque. What does wealth have to do with a person's Imaan? Is a rich man's worship inferior to a poor man's merely because of his wealth?Sincerity and repentance are paramount and any attempt to pit rich against poor is condemnable.

3:20 AM  
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2:30 PM  

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