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OUR STRATEGIC ACTION ALERTS focus on what Muslims, and Muslim organizations, can do to help others better understand Islam and what it has to offer the West, and to help concerned Americans and Muslims build a better America.

Priority 1: Political empowerment

US flag Muslim organizations have begun to work together, but much more needs to be done to work toward the common goal of Muslims achieving greater political power (i.e. influence over media, money, votes, positions), thereby, playing a bigger role in decision-making at all levels of U.S. society.

Limited resources demand that Muslims develop a clear vision, mission, long term strategy, and the plan, organization and infrastructure for achieving common objectives on the path to political empowerment. Periodic identification of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats should be used to keep efforts on track, and to build and sustain the necessary consensus.

Two issues that need to be addressed immediately are: How can Muslims work together more effectively? How can Muslims better communicate with other Americans?

A briefing book stating Muslims' position on issues on which they are able to agree should be placed in congressional offices and on the Internet.

Priority 2: Prioritize, organize, act

Muslims, like any other community, disagree about many things. Pick something which the majority in your community can agree upon. Then organize, organize, organize to turn out the vote, lobby, demonstrate peacefully until success is achieved. Ask The Wisdom Fund to provide a facilitator (no fee charged) to help your organization develop the needed consensus and action plan.

"The black movement, like the labor movement, the women's movement, and the anti-war movement, has taught us a simple truth: The official channels, the formal procedures of representative government have been sometimes useful, but never sufficient, and have often been obstacles, to the achievement of crucial human rights. What has worked in history has been direct action by people engaged together, sacrificing, risking together, in a worthwhile cause."-- Howard Zinn, "Declarations of Independence: Cross-Examining American Ideology," HarperPerrenial (1991), p. 257

Priority 3: Define Islam for Americans

Don't let others tell America and the world what Islam is or is not. Take the lead. In this age of the 30 second sound bite a short, simple message repeated often works best.

Our sound bite, "The Truth About Islam,"; described as the "best, short introduction to Islam" by readers, was displayed in the Washington Metro, Aug '98, and has been published in Islamic Horizons, Jan/Feb '99; The Brown Journal of World Affairs, Fall '96; Washington Report On Middle East Affairs, Apr '96; Foreign Affairs, Jul/Aug and Nov/Dec '95; American Muslim Council's The AMC Report, May '95; The Washington Times, Feb '95; Eastern Times, Aug '95; etc. Donate so that we may expand this campaign.

Buy "The Truth About Islam" rack cards for your friends, neighbors, classmates, colleagues, media, community leaders, and elected officials. For purpose built mosques we have a bronze plaque.

Use "free" media and other opportunities

Use "free" media and other opportunities. For example: news releases on Muslim holidays, events at your mosque, etc., using Eid stamps whenever possible, using public access television to present your views; when granting visas to foreign media covering Muslim countries require that their team include Muslims.

Apply for broadcasting jobs for minorities

The FCC has replaced a 30-year-old equal employment opportunity (EEO) program that was struck down as unconstitutional in 1998 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. "Under the new system, the FCC will require broadcasters to have an active outreach program for hiring women and racial minorities. The companies will have to publicize job openings widely to ensure that minorities and women hear about and can compete for the positions."

Use boycotts to stop anti-Muslim propaganda

Change the behavior of offensive publications and TV stations by boycotting the advertisers who supply their income. This will send a powerful message to those organizations which consistently equate Islam with terrorism. Boycotts will be more effective if Muslims coordinate their actions to take on one advertiser at a time at the national, state, and/or local level.

Get The Washington Post to hire Muslims

Washington Post columnist Dorothy Gilliam writes (The Washington Post, December 20, 1997), "Newsrooms that do not reflect America's diversity do their readers an injustice. They fail to tell the stories of its citizens, they give readers a distorted image of themselves and they grossly twist the reality of minority groups." We agree with Ms. Gilliam. The Post has few, if any, Muslim reporters, editors, or columnists on its payroll, and isn't hiring any. The Post isn't just another newspaper. It has a tremendous influence on national policy. Without Muslims on its payroll the Washington Post grossly twists the reality of Islam and Muslims.

E-mail Ombudsman, The Washington Post, and ask about their plans for hiring Muslims. Ask the same of your local newspaper and TV station. Perhaps a legal case can be made for discrimination in employment.

Read these books, and start a discussion group

US flag Read the book selections in our Activists' Library for a better understanding of how US policy affects the lives of Americans, Muslims, and the world. These books will tell you of the murder and exploitation of modern imperialism, US military and CIA interventions since World War II, how the Pentagon manufactured the threat of rogue states and nuclear outlaws to protect cold war levels of defense spending, the facts behind the U.S.-Israeli relationship, why the U.S. government bears prime responsibility for the Gulf War, and how free market capitalism and individualism run amok are destroying America.

Then start an informal discussion group of Muslims and non-Muslims who meet regularly to discuss current events affecting interfaith relations, and take steps to improve them. Establish the following ground rules for when the discussion turns to religion: don't proselytize, don't argue over beliefs.

Campaign for broadcasting Fairness Doctrine

The Fairness Doctrine from 1949 until 1987, when it was discontinued by the Federal Communications Commission, required broadcasters, as a condition of getting their licenses from the FCC, to cover controversial issues in their community, and to do so by offering some balancing views. It did not require equal time for opposing views. It merely prevented a station from day after day presenting a single view without airing opposing views. The passing of media ownership into fewer hands, the potential for conflicts of interests, and the virtual exclusion of significant opposing viewpoints are good reasons to campaign for reinstatement of the broadcasting Fairness Doctrine.

Support campaign finance reform

The current system of campaign financing encourages the US Congress to place the needs of large donors ahead of the needs of the people who elected them to office. Muslims have virtually no voice in Congress, and are under attack by over 150 "Stealth PAC's" which follow the recommendations of the American Israel Political Action Committee. The single most important piece of legislation for Muslims, and Americans, concerned about the lack of representative government, and the erosion of US democracy, is to pass legislation which would make illegal contributions to candidates for the US House and Senate from outside their district or state. Join with other groups in your state, and nationally, to support such legislation.

Islam, some Muslims argue, represents the world's first, and ideal, democracy.

Insist on accuracy and fairness in history courses

A better educated society is more likely to reject false propaganda against Islam. In order to reduce Eurocentric bias talk to your teachers and school officials about incorporating in history courses "A People's History of the United States" by Howard Zinn, and "Rethinking World History" by Marshall G. S. Hodgson. We've heard that some California schools have adopted a history text which has about 60 pages on Islam approved by Muslim scholars.

A related goal might be to lobby Congress to declare an Islamic History Month, or an Asian American History Month similar to the African American History Month.

Participate in newspaper and magazine forums

Participate in the electronic forums of national and local newspapers and magazines. Use News Link to find the web sites of national and local newspapers and magazines, and visit the website to see if they have an electronic forum (you won't find these forums in Usenet Newsgroups). Become a regular contributor to at least one forum. Prepare yourself with the facts. Check our News & Views, Recommended Reading, and Issues and Answers. Please be concise, specific, and polite in your discussions.

Think globally, act locally

All politics is local. Whether you want to influence a decision in your state, across the US, or on the opposite side of the globe you need to lobby your county, state or US representative. That means providing them information, support, and building coalitions. A small, organized group that knows what it wants, which can get other groups to support their concerns, and which can either support or bring pressue upon their local representative is very effective. Congressional voting records are in the Activists' Library. Write your representative, now!

Don't just sit there, do something

Learn the facts, define the problem, evaluate the options. Then speak out, write, join or form an organization; don't just complain -- ACT!

Copyright © 1995 The Wisdom Fund - All Rights Reserved
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