Muhammad Ali Hasan is older and wiser. There is less swagger and more introspection when he talks. He's aDemocrat
now. And interfaith, reaching out to Jews and Christians as well as Muslims. Oh, and he's changing his name -- to Muhammad Miguel Ali Hasan -- in order to honor his recently-discovered Spanish heritage on his mother's side.
"Muhammad and Miguel are probably the two most vilified names in the United States," says the outspoken Hasan, who became one of Colorado's most interesting public figures over the past two years after running -- and losing -- for office twice as a Republican.
And while Hasan is out of politics in Colorado, having moved back to California to pursue his film making career, he isn't out of political energy. In fact, the co-founder of Muslims for Bush is starting a new organization -- one with very different goals.
Constitutionalists for Gays and Immigrants will be dedicated to making the argument, from a Constitutional standpoint, that gay marriage should be legal and that all immigrants, including illegal ones, should be allowed to become U.S. citizens.
"When you lose an election, your mind gets played with," says Hasan, who ran for state treasurer, but didn't make the ballot. "The way that manifested itself for me this time was that I wanted to know who I am."
Hasan, who lived in Beaver Creek, ran for state House District 56 seat in 2008, losing to Democrat Christine Scanlan.
Hasan also did some serious soul-searching after watching the way his GOP colleagues treated the idea of a mosque being built near the ground-zero site in New York City. He and his family -- wealthy Republican activists and donors Seeme and Malik Hasan -- repeatedly criticized what they felt was racism and bigotry in the GOP, particularly with the Tea Party movement. The Hasans are Muslim and came here from Pakistan.
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That's why Muhammad Miguel Ali Hasan has switched parties, changed his name, expanded his faith and changed his focus to helping the two groups of people in this country who he feels are the most hated.
"Gay marriage and citizenship for illegal immigrants are the two most important issues in the United States today because they are civil rights issues," he says. "My parents came here as immigrants because this was the greatest country in the world.
"I want to help the Democrats now," he adds. "But the thing I learned from the Republicans is that we do have a moral code in the United States, and it comes from the Constitution. If you can prove the Constitution is on your side, you win," he adds.