NEW YORK - Having a growing political clout in the United States, Muslim voters in New York are having the opportunity to grill candidates for local office before deciding to whom they would cast ballot.
We are going to be at the polls, Linda Sarsour, the head of the American Association of New York, told Voice of America.
And we want to make sure our elected officials that are going to be taking these positions are keeping these positions.
American voters are set to elect members of the New York State Assembly on Tuesday, November 6.
To decide to whom they would vote for, Muslim groups are working to register voters and hold meetings with candidates before the ballot.
Sarsour's group, for example, has registered more than 2,000 new Muslim voters in one of Brooklyn's electoral districts.
The Arab-American Association of New York has also held a forum for voters to meet with candidates before the vote.
They're not aware of the racial profiling, the things that we go through, the scrutiny that we go through on a daily basis, singer-songwriter Omnia Hegazy said.
And I think it would be in their interest to actually learn about our community and what are we, who are we, and how we are just as American as anybody else.
Though there are no official figures, the United States is believed to be home to nearly six to eight million Muslims.
Although the Muslim population in the US may be small, the voting power of this group could become significant in a close election as a significant number of US Muslims live in key swing states such as Michigan, Ohio, Florida and Virginia.
The meetings also help candidates to know more about problems facing the Muslim community.
Among those candidates is Tom McCarthy, a Republican who is seeking to take Muslim votes to defeat his Democrat rival Alec Brook-Krasny.
They are an immigrant community primarily, and many people are not yet registered to vote, McCarthy, of Russian background, told Voice of America.
But I think that will change as time goes on and more and more of the community obtain their citizenship and register to vote.
McCarthy reiterated rejection of police spying on American Muslims and restrictions on building mosques.
If we start taking freedoms from some groups, if we start taking freedoms from each other, it's not going to be a country we all came to, it's not going to be a country of the American dream, he said.
We just cannot do it.
Last year, the Associated Press revealed that New York Police sent out undercover officers into ethnic communities to track their daily life and monitor mosques and Muslim student organizations.
It also revealed that the police intelligence had established so-called Demographics Unit using plainclothes police officers to monitor ethnic groups in the metropolitan region.The AP also found that the NYPD kept secret files on businesses owned by second- and third-generation Americans specifically because they were Muslims.