At a news conference on Monday, the Political ActionCommittee of the American Muslim Political Coordination Council citedremarks Bush made during the second presidential debate as the mainbasis for its support for his presidential bid.
The council approved of Bush's denouncement of racial profiling andthe use of "secret evidence" by federal prosecutors.
"There is other forms of racial profiling that goes on in America,"Bush said during his debate with Vice President Al Gore. "Arab-Americansare racially profiled in what's called secret evidence. People arestopped, and we've got to do something about that."
Those words showed that Bush "has elevated the level of his concernabout civil rights of Arab-Americans in the United States," said YahyaBasha, president of the American Muslim Council, one of four memberorganizations of the Political Coordination Council.
The other organizations that comprise the council are the AmericanMuslim Alliance, the Council on American Islamic Relations and theMuslim Public Affairs Council.
Bush was also credited with being more "accessible" than his rival.
"It is ironic that the Clinton administration has set a precedentabove all others in appointing Muslims to top policy positions," saidSalam Al-Marayati, national director of the Muslim Public AffairsCouncil. "We're kind of perplexed about why Al Gore has not been asaccessible and spoken out officially on racial profiling."
The group denied that its endorsement of Bush was influenced by thereligion of Democratic vice presidential contender Sen. JosephLieberman, an Orthodox Jew.
"Since the days of Truman, Washington's support for Israel has beenone-sided and unbalanced," Al-Marayati said. "Blind support for Israelis a problem with every politician -- it has nothing to do with whethera person is Jewish or not. For us, Lieberman is not the issue."
The council's decision to endorse Bush is a signal to lawmakers thatthe voice of Muslim voters cannot be ignored, Al-Marayati said, andissues important to what the group said are the nation's 6 millionMuslims must be addressed.
"Our objective is to get out the Muslim vote and show politiciansthat we can make a difference," he said. "They need to know it's timethey started addressing our issues."