As one of the nation’s most integrated and educated faith communities, American Muslims have an important role to play in our society’s social and political fabric. To that end, on Monday, May 7, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, California (CAIR-CA) will host the first-ever California Muslim Day at the Capitol.

American Muslims from all over the state will gather in Sacramento to meet and speak about issues of concerns with their legislators. The daylong event aims to introduce community members to the political process and help them be active in shaping the work of our state legislature. This event is designed to equip community members with the tools and experience needed to have our voices count where key decisions that impact our lives are made.

During this first year, community members will focus on two important pieces of legislation. The first piece of legislation, the Workplace Religious Freedom Act (AB 1964), seeks to strengthen the religious rights of minorities in the workplace. The second piece of legislation, the TRUST Act (AB 1081), would keep immigration enforcement at the federal level and ensure immigrant communities can safely report crimes without fear of deportation. Both these pieces of legislation are necessary to keep California a place where diversity and equality remain at the forefront.

Furthermore, recent trends show that the American Muslim community could be the largest swing vote in this election. While such statistics are noteworthy, American Muslim voter registration numbers are unfortunately still the lowest of any religious community in the U.S. As American Muslims, translating values that we hold into larger discussions around issues at the local, state, and national level are paramount. In a recent study entitled “The American Mosque 2011,” evidence suggests that higher levels of religiosity and mosque attendance lead to higher levels of political participation. This can be seen in mosque participants’ higher voting levels, increased awareness of issues, correspondence with elected officials, engagement with candidates running for office, and other such indicators.

As we near the 2012 election primaries, it is important for the community to step up our civic engagement efforts. This can be done by mobilizing community members to register to vote, working directly on political campaigns, or hosting candidate forums. Muslim Day at the Capitol is a great first step down this path. There are still a few spots remaining; I encourage you to be a part of this historic event. Please visit our website to register today.
Adel Syed
Former CAIR-LA Government Relations Coordinator