“Empower Youth & Organize”: Congressman Keith Ellison at Detroit fundraiser

The Muslim Observer

“Empower Youth & Organize”: Congressman Keith Ellison at Detroit fundraiser

By Staff reporter

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L to R, Hassan Muhammad, senior at Plymouth Canton High school, Ahmed Abbas, a WSU student, Faisal Chaudhry, a senior from Rochester Hills, in serious discussion with Cong. Keith Ellison. In the back is Dawood Zwink talking to another student, Atif Aslam.

Dr. Muzammil Ahmed, secretary of the Michigan Muslim Democratic Caucus and his wife Asra Ahmed held a fundraising event on October 18 for Congressman Keith Ellison, the US representative for Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District. The event took place at their spacious and beautiful home in Canton-MI.

About 55 people, mainly community activists and organizational leaders attended the event, but the notable feature was the presence of a good number of youths.

Following a short introduction and description of the purpose of the meeting, Dr. Muzammil Ahmed asked people to introduce themselves.

Some of the prominent people in attendance were: Dr. Basha, Victor Begg, Dawood Zwink, Dr. Mahmood Hai, Dr. Iltefat Hamzavi, Farhan Lateef, Muqtedar Khan, Amina Iqbal, and others.

Addressing the gathering, especially the youths, Congressman Ellison spoke on youth empowerment. He said, “For the community’s effective representation, participation of our youths is paramount.”

And that political participation begins at the local level. We can make a difference by being involved in local school boards and other zoning boards.

One of the effective ways of conveying our concerns on any issue is by calling lawmakers’ offices or the White House. Most of the lawmakers go through their daily call log by 4:00 PM. According to the congressman, the least effective method of influencing congress was by sending email, especially forwarding mass emails.

We also need to organize ourselves to be effective. Giving the example of AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) he said they have a representative in every one of 435 Congressional Districts. They are well organized and hence they are powerful.

Ellison emphasized the importance of community research work as carried out by ISPU.

Addressing other issues he said, “Faith is not a club” and he talked about our belief in one true God.

On foreign policies, he expressed his disappointment for the current administration’s ineffectiveness and lack of clear policies on Syria. He chided the UN on being so ineffective, and gave the example of Rwanda where 500,000 to 1,000,000 people were killed, many hacked to death by machetes, without intervention. This genocide occurred with impunity over time and the UN and US did nothing to stop it.

Discussing Pakistan, he said that the greatest thing that has happened to Pakistan is its democratic process. There might be flaws but this is a good step forward. And if the Pakistani Americans want to contribute to Pakistan, they should direct their efforts in increasing the literacy in Pakistan. The congressman showed his concerns about the high level of illiteracy in Pakistan.

On Detroit’s bankruptcy, his view was that it is not a failure of either Republicans or Democrats.  There are other social and especially economic factors at work. Everyone living in Detroit has to pool their strength and resources to pull Detroit out of this quagmire. Other cities have done it and he said he saw no reason why Detroit wouldn’t be able do it.

Following the lively question and answer session and the meeting adjournment, Ellison spent time meeting and discussing individual concerns on issues, continuing to work with those present until 11PM despite his busy calendar of obligations.

Mrs. Amina Iqbal contributed to this report.


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