The Crescent Report

December 23, 2008

MAS Freedom and Olive Branch Interfaith Peace Partnership Discuss New Legislative and Economic Agendas with Congressional Leadership

Ibrahim Ramey Offers Eradication of National and Global Poverty as Core Objectives

WASHINGTON, DC (MASNET) Dec. 23, 2008 – As the nation anticipates the January 20, 2009 inauguration of President-elect Barack Hussein Obama and the much needed ‘sea of change’ his administration will endeavor to deliver, MAS Freedom (MASF), as the civic and human rights advocacy entity of the Muslim American Society (MAS) and the Olive Branch Interfaith Peace Partnership (‘Olive Branch’), will collaborate in delivering their respective plans to press both the Executive Branch and the 111th United States Congress for a new legislative agenda.

Olive Branch is a coalition of interfaith leaders and organizations advocating peace, reconciliation, and justice, with a dedication toward bringing an end to the U.S. war in Iraq while promoting a wider agenda to end the call for war with Iran, stopping the torture of U.S. prisoners, supporting the needs of returning U.S. troops, and working for broad economic and social justice at home and abroad.

MAS Freedom Civil and Human Rights Director, Ibrahim Abdil-Mu’id Ramey and Olive Branch coalition members recently participated in meetings with senior staff members representing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as an initial step in presenting their respective agendas for change.

Pelosi’s representative offered assurances to MAS Freedom and Olive Branch coalition delegates that even before the inauguration of President-elect Obama, the new House of Representatives would press for immediate passage of an economic recovery package (roughly between $500-600 billion dollars), in addition to striving for new legislation that would provide health insurance for children and a new Foreign Assistance Act that will examine a reinvigorated U.S. response to the problem of world hunger.

“With a Democratic President and the increased Democratic presence in both chambers of Congress, there is a general consensus that these key legislative issues are more likely to pass,” Ramey stated.

In a discussion on U.S. military engagement in Afghanistan, coalition members came away with a sense of affirmation in the belief that the policy under the current administration had been “bungled”, and that the United States had taken backward steps in the “war on terrorism”.

Both the Senate and House representatives acknowledged that the new Congress will face enormous challenges in passing progressive legislation (largely opposed under the current administration), particularly in light of the nation’s deepening economic crisis.

Olive Branch representatives also raised important questions regarding the national commitment to end torture and the need to pursue non-military policy options in Afghanistan.

Ramey stated, “A critical role that people of faith can play in the fight for new legislation, is to continue pressing for accountability on the part of the U.S. government for adherence to international law, particularly as it relates to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and any contemplated violent conflict with Iran.”

MAS Freedom believes that interfaith engagement can play a significant role in shaping newly developing congressional and executive agendas for proposed change.

“The MAS Freedom 2008-2012 Legislative Agenda supports the Olive Branch initiative, and we call on the Muslim community to join in working for changes in national policy that will benefit economic and social justice for all Americans and increase incentives toward garnering peace within the international community,” stated MAS Freedom Executive Director, Mahdi Bray.

“MAS Freedom will strive to inject the need to eradicate national and global poverty as core objectives into each initiative and piece of legislation we will continue to advocate for in the years ahead,” Ramey added. “The soon to be released MAS Freedom 2008-2012 Legislative Agenda addresses many of the issues discussed in these preliminary meetings – issues that we will continue to press for as the full agenda is delivered to congressional leaders and members of Congress.”

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