Houstonian Corner Vol. 8 Iss. 45

Muslim Matters

Houstonian Corner Vol. 8 Iss. 45

Historic CONAC-PACT Candidates Forum Attracted Several Aspirants of Public Offices

The newly formed Coalition of New American Communities “CONAC” and the Pakistani American Council of Texas “PACT”, a registered Political Action Committee (PAC) in Austin, arranged a well-organized Political Workshop, iftar and dinner and meet-the-Candidates program. The program started with a welcome address by the Mayor of Houston, Bill White, who gave encouraging remarks to this large gathering of community political and social activists. He was impressed by the interest shown by the vast number of people.

Now, as the stretch to the November 2006 elections begins, with early voting starting on October 23rd, also for most the day of ‘Eid, it was important that such a grassroots level political activism program was organized.

Both CONAC and PACT have devised a plan, where rather than just raising funds for political candidates what they are going to pursue is to increase the Muslim voter turnout and affect the policy development with such grassroots level support.

Over the years, the Muslims of Houston, due to their political activism, are now recognized as being a major factor in the grassroots political landscape of this area. Muslims have gained outstanding successes since 2004 in the field of political activism and everyone present vowed to work hard in order to make sure elected officials do the right thing for every American.

After the mayor’s address, a workshop was held to impart all the applicable and practical political education and learning, which has been achieved over the past three years. Committees for several areas of the Eight-County Greater Houston Region were formed, which will work towards bringing people out to cast their ballots during the Early Voting Time. Systematically drafted and sorted lists of Muslim Voters in those areas were given to the committee members to start making phone calls to get people out to vote (GOTV). Specific phone scripts and formatted personal letters to the voters, which have been devised over the years, were distributed among the workshop participants.

Since fewer Americans vote during the Early Voting Time in the non-presidential mid-term elections, more of the Muslims seen voting will thereby project a noticeable image of Muslims taking active part in mainstream America.

After the iftar and dinner, more than twenty-five politicians vying for the top political races in Texas spoke at the candidates’ forum. Some of the big runners included opponents Nick Lampson (D) and Dr. Shelley Sekula Gibbs (R), competing for Texas District 22 (Tom Delay’s former seat); Honorable Sheila Jackson Lee (D) for Congress Texas District 18 Re-Election, Hubert Vo (D) & Talmadge Heflin (R) competing in the Texas Legislature District 149 Election, Martha Wong (R) Texas State Legislature District 134 Re-Election, Farhan Shamsi (D) for Justice of the Peace in Precinct 3, Jim Henley (D) Teacher for Congress Texas District 7, Jim Sharp for Justice, 1st Court of Appeals, and many others.

All the candidates were asked to address five specific issues: 1) the use of police and other law enforcement agencies for immigration checks during investigation of routine violations; 2) access to emergency services for those with limited English proficiency; 3) Quality and affordable or subsidized senior housing; 4) the Iraq war and what should be the US exit strategy to safely get our troops home; 5) the creation of an International Business District in Southwest Houston.

This was the first time that along with the two community groups, namely CONAC and PACT, several bipartisan organizations of the other communities, for example Philippine, Chinese (80/20) and African organizations, attended and sponsored the event.

With the presence of hundreds of community activists and media persons, all the candidates showed excitement at the excellent turnout. For additional information as to how to devise plans for the future political activism in your area anywhere across USA , contact one of these persons:

A. J. Durrani Phone: 713-702-2377 E-Mail: AJDurrani@AOL.Com – Zafar Tahir Phone: 713-504-0156 E-Mail: ZafarTahir@AOL.Com – Sajjad Burki Phone: 281-236-9492 E-Mail: SidBurki@BurkiRealtyGroup.Com – Abdullah Jafari Phone: 713-907-7786 E-Mail: ASJ786@Yahoo.Com

Mexican Federal Forces Invade Oaxaca: Solidarity Actions in Houston

Currently, the people of Oaxaca organized in the People’s Popular Assembly of Oaxaca (APPO) are under attack by the Mexican federal government.

More than 10 thousand military and police agents sweep the streets of Oaxaca on the orders of President Fox. The Federal Preventative Police have invaded Oaxaca de Juarez using tanks, water cannons and live ammunition, arresting at least 50 supporters of APPO, including forced entry and arrests in peoples houses, and killing at least two; (Social Security Institute worker Roberto López Hernández and nurse and APPO safety commission member Jorge Alberto Beltrán), with unconfirmed reports of other deaths.

Houstonians hosted Planton in front of the Mexican Consulate on Caroline South of Wheeler in downtown Houston. While numbers were small, there was a constant presence and plans were discussed for future action. Protests also took place at Mexican consulates across the world including in New York, where a dozen have been arrested. In Indianapolis, some people stormed the consulate. In Barcelona there there is a solidarity encampment and in Raleigh, protestors have occupied the consulate for more than 3 hours. Protests have taken place all over the hemisphere; from Vancouver, Canada to Santiago, Chile.

Across the world, people are organizing actions in solidarity with APPO and the movement in Oaxaca, as well as remembering the murder of NYC Journalist Brad Will.

There were at least 14 vigils and protests that took place in the US in front of Mexican Consulates. In Houston there was a Planton or encampment outside of the consulate located at 4507 San Jacinto Street.

APPO has appealed that if you are stuck at work in your office, the Mountain Rebel has started an Electronic Blockade of Mexican Embassy and Consulate Websites, which you can undertake from the convenience of your desktop.


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