Since Sept. 11, there has been a significant drop in American Muslims running for political office, but there are signs that this may be changing.
The Christian Science Monitor (Nov. 7) reports that Muslims only began running for office in significant numbers in the 1990s, hitting a peak in 2000, when about 700 candidates ran and 153 were elected. But by 2002, the number of candidates declined to only about 60 candidates. Although exact figures are not in for the 2003 elections, Agha Saeed of the American Muslim Alliance noted only a handful of Muslims running, though that may be because it was an election off-year.
But observers see a rebounding of Muslim candidates for next year. Part of the reason for the renewed political interest is a concern to counter the suspicions and Muslim stereotypes surrounding September 11. Another factor may be the growth of new organizations stressing Muslim political and civic involvement. For instance, the recent formation of the political action group PACE (the Platform for Active Civic Engagement) came in the wake of government raids on Muslim organizations.
PACE is different than other Muslim advocacy groups in that it focuses on local issues rather than Middle Eastern concerns and that it will endorse non-Muslims.