While the upcoming municipal elections in March are prompting candidates to court voters and support, many are making Muslims and mosques a major focus of their campaign – either supportive to attract Muslim supporters, or promising no increase in Islamic presence, drawing backing from rightist voters. The issue is major, as up for grabs are all city mayors and municipal councilors. One of the main banners for Thomas Joly’s campaign reads: “No Mosque in Beauvais.” The online campaign of UMP candidate Francoise de Panafieu for the Paris municipality, the country’s largest, features a photo of Muslims praying on a Parisian street. The caption for the photo reads: “France must be ashamed that citizens practice their rituals on the margins.” Muslim candidates themselves are not absent from the municipal campaign trails, and are representing a variety of parties. “We want French of immigrant backgrounds, especially Muslims, to be heavily represented in municipal elections,” Youssef Alzawi, who is leading the independent Bobigny for All list, told IslamOnline.net Monday, January 28. Citizens of immigrant descent make up nearly 21% of the population of 46,000 in Bobigny. Alzawi cites that paying attention to youth needs and resources is a major issue of his campaign. Leila Bouzidi, a French Muslim of Algerian descent is also a leading slate for the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP).
Belgians began voting on Sunday in an election expected to replace Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt with the premier of Flanders who wants more power for his Dutch-speaking region, where 60 percent of Belgians live.Early on Sunday, reflecting Belgium’s firm linguistic divide, it was expected that voters in the country’s francophone and Dutch-speaking communities will elect separate parties that must eventually form a coalition to govern the whole country.Turks with Belgian citizenship also participated in the elections, both as voters and candidates. 36 Turks have been named candidates in the elections on all sides of the political spectrum.
Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney said Friday that a Senate compromise on immigration reform is flawed because it makes it too easy for illegal immigrants to continue to live in this country. The former Massachusetts governor was attending the state conference of the Georgia Republican Party. He said the immigration plan unveiled Thursday “has some positive features” but shouldn’t include the “Z-visa” provision. (…) Casting himself as the true conservative in a crowded Republican field, Romney said he believes voters in the South will be willing to support a former Northeastern governor because of stances like his opposition to abortion and gay marriage and support of lower taxes and a strong military. “Those values and those conservative perspectives are the values that voters in the South share,” he said. He also downplayed the possibility that his Mormon faith would turn off Republican voters in the Bible Belt. “I’m not running for pastor-in-chief; I’m running for a secular position,” Romney said. “I don’t think Americans anywhere choose their candidate based on what church you go to that’s what they do in other places,” like nations run by Islamic fundamentalists, he said.
LONDON – Muslim voters delivered a stinging rebuke to British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Friday over the Iraq war, voting a loyal member of his Labour Party out of office in favour of an anti-war candidate. In a major upset, Blair loyalist Oona King — who strongly backed the March 2003 conflict supported by the prime minister — lost her Bethnal Green and Bow seat in east London to George Galloway from the left-wing Respect Party. “Mr Blair, this is for Iraq. All the people you killed, all the lies you told have come back to haunt you and and the best thing the Labour Party could do is sack you tomorrow morning as soon as they get back to work,” Galloway told cheering supporters following the announcement. Galloway, a former Labour deputy thrown out of the party for defying Blair over the war, specifically targeted King as her seat contains a high proportion of Muslim voters, mainly of Bangladeshi origin. King, who is half-Jewish and half-black, won her seat in 1997 at only 30 years of age and proved a popular local MP, winning a 10,000-vote majority in the 2001 election. However in Thursday’s election, she lost out of Galloway by just over 800 votes. Such a turnaround reflects the bitter feelings the Iraq war provoked in many British Muslims, as well as a fearsome campaign by Galloway. The election battle between King and Galloway, a flamboyant political veteran known as “gorgeous George”, was perhaps the most bitter individual fight in the entire election. King accused Respect activists of spreading word among the 40-percent Muslim district that she was Jewish to hurt her chances, something Galloway’s officials vehemently denied. Unknown attackers threw eggs at King at a Holocaust memorial service, and she was later again pelted with eggs and had her car tires slashed by a gang of youths protesting her support for the Iraq war. Galloway also placed himself under heightened security after being threatened with death by a group of Islamic extremists. Blair has acknowledged that Britons remain divided over the conflict, but on Friday said that he felt they wanted to “move on” and look toward the future. The vote results indicate otherwise, countered the Liberal Democrats, pointing to the “significant impact” the party had on battles across the country, where its candidates often gained in the popular vote although they did not win. “I attribute some of that to the anti-war platform, but our other policies have also played a significant role,” said deputy party president Fiyaz Mughal. “In areas where there are higher minority populations, which will primarily vote for us because of Iraq, you’re having major swings,” Mughal said, pointing to areas like immigrant-heavy Hornsey and Wood Green, north London, where the Liberal Democrat candidate overcame a gap of more than 12,000 votes to oust a Labour incumbent. “There is clearly a lot of disaffection among British Muslims about the Iraq war, the application of draconian anti-terror laws and the manner in which sections of the media have used sensationalism to stigmatize our entire community,” Iqbal Sacranie, the secretary general of the umbrella organization the Muslim Council of Britain, said in a statement. The council, which had urged the country’s 1.6 million Muslims to vote, said the results showed that Iraq had clearly become a “mainstream concern”. Analysts said the Iraq question affected non-Muslim voters by undermining Blair’s trustworthiness. The premier “lost the public relations war,” Chris Brown at the London School of Economics said. Still, several direct challenges to Labour heavyweights over Iraq failed, including a contest in Blair’s home constituency of Sedgefield, northern England by Reg Keys, the father of a soldier who died in Iraq in June 2003. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw also beat off challenges in his closely-watched race in Blackburn, near Manchester in northwest England, where 25 percent of the voters are Muslim.
Poll: Blow For The Government Labour’s support among Britain’s ethnic minority voters has fallen, according to a new survey. It now stands at 58 per cent, down from 75 per cent in 2001. The Guardian/ICM poll published on Monday confirms earlier polls showing that Muslim voters in particular have defected from Labour in the wake of the Iraq war. Labour’s support has halved among Muslims, declining from 75 per cent to 38 per cent since 2001. The poll finds some ethnic groups have stayed loyal to Labour with 74 per cent of black people and 61 per cent of those of Indian-origin saying they will vote for the party. Support for Labour is lowest among people of mixed race, at 42 per cent it is more in line with the wider electorate. The Liberal Democrats, on 23 per cent, firmly push the Conservatives into third place as far as support from Britain’s ethnic minority groups is concerned. The Tories only register backing from 14 per cent of ethnic minority voters. Wider Findings The poll found that only 39 per cent of ethnic minority voters see themselves as “fully British”, regardless of how long they have lived here, and more than half say they have been a victim of name-calling or verbal abuse. One in five ethnic minority voters say they have considered leaving Britain because of racial intolerance. Nearly half say that when they hear people talking about immigrants they think they mean them, regardless of how long they have been in Britain. On a more positive note, the survey found higher than expected levels of trust in the police, health and education authorities to treat them fairly. The poll was undertaken to highlight the needs and experiences of Britain’s ethnic minority voters, and their relevance to the coming election campaign as Labour seeks a third term.
WASHINGTON, April 28 (IslamOnline.net & News Agencies) – A majority of Arab Americans in four battleground states would vote for democratic candidate John Kerry if presidential elections were held Thursday, April 29, a poll unveiled. The poll, conducted by the Washington-based Arab American Institute, found that 49 percent of all Arab-American voters in Florida, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania – all swing states in the November election – would vote for Kerry, while 30 percent would vote for incumbent Republican President George W. Bush. However, with Ralph Nader – an American of Lebanese descent – in the mix, Kerry’s support would slip to 45 percent, and Bush’s to 28 percent, while the independent contender would get 14 percent of the vote. The poll is based on interviews with 503 Arab-American voters in the four states and has a 4.5 percent margin of error.