Farmington–February 19–Dr. Yahya Basha is an unassuming but very accomplished man who, behind the scenes, has done much to support Muslims while finding time to build himself a powerful resume.
The Syrian-born doctor and businessman has also operated as an entrepreneur of political influence and social organization among American Muslims.
Dr. Basha maintains a business Basha Diagnostics which he explains has â€œover 100 employees.â€ He started Basha Diagnostics almost 28 years ago, in 1980. Before starting that business he had a prominent career, working for several hospitals in Michigan.
He has had wide-ranging and high-level involvement in Muslim advocacy organizations, from the American Muslim Council (AMC) to MPAC, AAI, and CAIR.
Without doubt he has had a prominent career in his business and in working for Muslim organizations, but the focus of TMOâ€™s interest in Dr. Basha during the exciting 2008 primary elections is politics. And perhaps his political philosophy could be boiled down to one theme: â€œIf you are out you donâ€™t count–your views will not be heard,â€ explains Dr. Basha.
This guiding principle has influenced Dr. Basha towards involvement with all sides of the American political landscape, including seeming opposites, from Bill Cliinton to Mitt Romney, from Democrat Jennifer Granholm to her Republican challenger Dick Devos. He previously worked for Michiganâ€™s Republican Governor Engler. He has met with Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff and has travelled as a part of an official State Department delegation under the current Bush administration.
He tries to demonstrate to all those he meets the importance of the Muslim community to those people, rather than making demands of them. â€œDefinitely the community has a lot of value,â€ he explains. In discussing the advantages of each party he explains that the Republicans value social morals and support small business, while the Democratic party tends to value diversity and welcome different ethnicities.
Some Muslims, he says, â€œfeel closer to the left–some to the right. But definitely no one is 100%â€ aligned to the views of Muslims. â€œWe have to navigate to bring our point of view.â€
Dr. Bashaâ€™s philosophy seems to be a sound and wise one, that because neither party exactly represents the views and needs of Muslims, but each does to some extent, it is better to look for those positive areas in each party and maintain involvement with both.
â€œI try to give guidance instead of asking for favors. I want to show that the Muslim community is capable of helping, a partner.â€ In order for a community to get its rights, he argues, that community â€œhas to earn it and work for it, you have to take it.â€ He looks to the Jewish community as a positive example, explaining that â€œJews and others work very hardâ€ and participate, and he explains that this is a good model to follow.
Speaking of the current political climate, he says, â€œIt is definitely a very sensitive time.â€ He emphasizes that American Muslims have to work very hard in this time, and that our fortunes will not improve without our working very hard.
As far as the 2008 Presidential Elections, he says that â€œthe momentum is definitely with Obamaâ€ right now. The final decision, however, he says, will rest in the hands of the hierarchy of the party (the superdelegates). Although he argues that the party superdelegates will likely fall with Obama, an open question is how reasonable the Clintons will be on this issue. He speaks of a potentially massive rift in the Democratic party if the hierarchy balks at Obamaâ€™s potential lead among delegates and instead chooses Clinton as a nominee–this would in his words â€œcause massive chaos–but I think they will manage it alright in the end.â€
Advising American Muslims, he says that â€œinstead of giving too many recommendations to Ron Paul, we have to look at the serious candidate who can help us in the long term, the nation and the community.â€ Speaking of Mr. Paul, he says, â€œsometimes I donâ€™t feel his comments resonate with the larger society.â€ He argues that it is better not to endorse secondary or third-class candidates.
Rather, Dr. Basha wisely keeps his options open by working with all of those people who are involved with politics, trying to support those who are most positive and trying to emphasize those areas of potential positive cooperation with whoever wins in the end.