Bush kicks off Muslim strategy for reelection

Monday, July 28, 2003

President George Bush has launched an outreach effort to win Muslim support for his reelection campaign in 2004.

One of the organizations the president is courting has opposed the listing of Hamas and other Islamic groups as terrorist organizations. The administration has been considering a proposal that would preserve Hamas as a political movement while eliminating its military wing, officials said.

On Thursday, the president met Yahya Mossa Basha, chairman of the American Muslim Council, during Bush's appearance in Michigan, Middle East Newsline reported. Basha delivered a letter to Bush on behalf of the American Muslim community.

The letter was reported to outline the positions of American Muslim leaders on the Arab-Israeli conflict and other Middle East issues. The AMC has opposed the listing by the State Department of such Islamic insurgency groups as Hamas, Hizbullah and Islamic Jihad as terrorist organizations.

"The majority in the American Muslim community voted for President Bush in the presidential election of 2000," the AMC said in a statement. "The community believes that the Muslim vote, and hard work and efforts of many Muslim activists in the 2000 Bush-Cheney campaign played a decisive role in the victory for the president."

The officials said the White House regards the Muslim vote as a key element in the campaign.

Among the U.S. agencies meeting with the Muslim community have been the State Department, Treasury Department and the FBI. Basha has met officials on such issues as U.S. policy in the Middle East and the freezing of assets of groups that support Hamas and others on the terrorist list.

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