ROSEMONT, Ill. – They stop abruptly when they see the 5-foot-tall photo of President Bush, with “muslimsforbush.com” above his head.
Then come the outbursts.
“Take that down,” said one onlooker.
At the largest annual convention of American Muslims, a pro-Bush booth has stirred anger among some attendees who believe the president’s actions since Sept. 11, 2001, have hurt more innocent Muslims than terrorists.
“I think President Bush has misled not only the United States, but the world,” said Noor Maciael, an educator who called the booth “disgusting” and planned to vote for Democrat John Kerry. “He has put us in a situation where the whole world is hating this country.”
The display was funded by Muhammad Ali Hasan and his mother, Seeme, who recently created the group “Muslims for Bush.” Seeme Hasan said in a phone interview that she and her husband, Malik, a Colorado physician, have donated more than $1 million to Bush and Republican causes since the 2000 campaign.
“The reason we are doing this is that Muslims don’t have a lobbyist,” Seeme Hasan said. “We want to be there. We are going to give contributions at the highest level.”
Bush has other supporters in the Muslim community. Some are Iraqi-Americans overjoyed that Saddam Hussein has been ousted. Others are entrepreneurs who view the GOP as more friendly to business interests. And many devout Muslims prefer the Republicans’ conservative stand on social issues such as gay marriage.
But many Muslims at the nonpartisan Islamic Society of North America convention were not grateful for the Hasans’ activism.
An older man gawked at the photo of the president with his arms wrapped around Muhammad and Seeme Hasan, and said, “I’m numb. I’m speechless.”
Asma Gull Hasan, the elder Hasan’s daughter, who was also at the booth, said she had expected negative remarks. However, she said she was encouraged that some passers-by had quietly told her they would vote for the president.