October 2012 Arabesque Lecture Recap

Will Arab Americans Swing the 2012 Election?:
Understanding the Impact of the Arab American Vote

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Washington, DC | www.adc.org | October 18, 2012 -- Yesterday, ADC kicked off the 2012-2013 Arabesque Lecture Series with a panel discussion about the upcoming presidential election and the role of Arab and Muslim Americans. The event took place at the ADC office -- it was a full house, and many tuned in to watch the event live online.

ADC was honored to have as its guest speakers Dr. Clovis Maksoud, former ambassador and permanent observer at the United Nations and its chief representative in the US for more than ten years, and Corey Saylor, CAIR’s National Legislative Director. ADC’s President Warren David moderated the discussion, inviting both speakers to share their insights on a range of key election issues important to members of our community and fielding questions from the audience in the hall and on twitter.

Both speakers enthusiastically shared an optimistic message: Arab and Muslim American communities have become more engaged in politics and have an impact. In fact, in his introductory comments, Saylor underscored the significance of our role in this election, saying “this is the year where we may be the ones to swing it.” Regardless of who we vote for, it is imperative, he said, that members in our community make their voices heard so that our political leaders take notice, which is why CAIR, ADC, and a number of other organizations have coordinated efforts on a “get out the vote” campaign for our communities.

Saylor also shared his observations that although many Arab and Muslim Americans are disappointed with President Obama’s performance, Republicans have not “been doing us any favors.” For example, over the last two years, thirty-three states and the US Congress have introduced seventy-eight overwhelmingly Republican-supported anti-Islam bills. Furthermore, frontrunners in the GOP presidential nominating season made disparaging comments about our community in recent months. He also cited Rep. Peter King’s five anti-Muslim hearings. It is up to us, Saylor emphasized, to make our voices count: “We really do have an opportunity to turn out voters and show American leaders that they must include Muslims in their calculations, rather than calculate how far away they want to be from us in order to get elected.”

Dr. Maksoud shared his view that the election and growing level of general participation in political life is a way of taking back our right to be part of the process. He recalled the immediate days after 9/11 when he was a professor at American University and many Arab and Muslim students were afraid to go attend