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****  PRESS RELEASE  ****

- For Immediate Release & Distribution -


CAIR-CHICAGO REGISTERS RECORD NUMBERS OF AMERICAN-MUSLIM VOTERS


- Registration billed as part of an organized campaign to mobilize and empower Muslims
- CAIR-Chicago to give a day off on Election Day to encourage voting

(CHICAGO, IL 10/11/2006) - The Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations announced today that it has registered over 1,000 new American-Muslim voters through the New Americans Democracy Project (NADP), in partnership with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR).

As a host organization of the NADP, CAIR-Chicago has been registering eligible American-Muslims to vote in the upcoming November election in the third congressional district since July. The third congressional district is home to one of the largest Muslim populations in Illinois. NADP fellow Haady Taslim has been working on the campaign full-time in the southwest suburbs, setting up his base at the Mosque Foundation of Bridgeview.

After the voter registration deadline in the State of Illinois passed yesterday, CAIR-Chicago's focus shifted to a "Get Out the Vote" campaign: door knocking, phone banking and Election Day activities in the area, such as poll watching.

"Registering people to vote is only the first step in community empowerment. Once they register to vote, we will educate them on their options so that they are able to make informed decisions at the polls," said Ahmed Rehab, Executive Director of CAIR-Chicago. "We are excited about this project that extends beyond any other political mobilization project that the Muslim community has seen so far. It will create voters as well as active civic participants."

According to CAIR-Chicago Governmental Relations Coordinator Sadiya Ahmed, the effort in Bridgeview is only the starting point. "We will use the work that we have been doing so far as a model to expand on it so that in the next few years, we will be covering more districts that have large Muslim populations," Ahmed said.

In addition, the Governmental Relations Department is expected to release the CAIR-Chicago Voter Education Guide 2006 later this week.

"This voter education guide has candidate profiles and voting records when applicable, along with answers to a questionnaire that CAIR-Chicago distributed to candidates earlier this summer," explained Ahmed.

"It is equipped with the information that voters will need to evaluate their choices for state and congressional offices. It simplifies the decision making process for first-time voters as well as voters who are veterans at the polls, without ever endorsing a candidate. It empowers voters with the ability to make their own decisions in the end."

Election Day is on Tuesday, November 7, 20006. In order to encourage staff, interns, and volunteers to vote, CAIR-Chicago is closing its office on Election Day. It will also pull down its highly-visited website and put up a single splash page in its place with the text "We Vote." The group said that they hope to send a strong message about the importance of voting as a cornerstone of civic engagement to the community. "We're treating November 7th as a holy day," Rehab said.

For more information, contact Sadiya Ahmed, Governmental Affairs Coordinator, at gov.relations@cairchicago.org

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