Washington D.C : Muslims who reside in the United States have launched different political campaigns against President Donald Trump’s “oppressive” policies on the community, ahead of the gubernatorial elections scheduled in November this year.
Various Muslim and Arab advocacy groups– like Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Emgage (formerly called Emerge USA), and the Arab American Institute have trained aspiring political activists, tracking rising politicians and running get-out-the-vote campaigns in regards to the rise in hate attacks against the minority community in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, The Washington Post reported.
According to a poll by Emgage, a non-profit organisation working towards promoting Muslim political engagement in the country, 53 percent of Muslim voters said that they felt “less safe” after the 2016 US election.
“But the response has been increased civic participation. I’m one of the people who, looking at the long-term impact of this, is optimistic,” Wa’el Alzayat, the organisation’s chief executive was quoted by The Washington Post as saying.
The aspiring American Muslim candidates include all from different walks of lives, such as well-known political activists, former Obama administration officials, lawyers and physicians, a molecular biologist, women’s rights advocates and a former Planned Parenthood manager.
Over 3.3 million Muslims are living in the US. However, they account for just two seats in the 535-seat Congress. Also, their voter participation is very less as compared to others, according to the report.
With the rise of such candidates, seeking to make a mark in the political circle, this has given rise to a “blue Muslim wave”.
Over 90 American Muslims, most of whom are young and politically inexperienced are running for public office this year in the US. Almost all of them are from the Democratic Party.
According to a 2001 Zogby poll, 42 percent of the American Muslim respondents said that they had voted for the then-Republican presidential candidate, George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential election. 31 percent had voted for Democrat Al Gore, the report said.
However, according to a Pew poll, only eight percent of American Muslims voted for Trump, while 78 percent voted for Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton in the 2016 US election.
Fawaz Nawabi, a 31-year-old candidate for San Diego City Council opposes all Trump’s policies.
“When you put someone in a corner and they’re in survival mode, they have a tendency to come out and speak more prominently about their beliefs,” said Nawabi, who considers himself an “unapologetic Muslim” and a “freelance imam” who can quote the Koran from memory, reports PTI.
As per the report, in Michigan, where 13 Muslim candidates are running for public office, a physician named Abdul El-Sayed has lingered hopes that voters would elect him to be the first Muslim governor in the US. Interestingly, He has publicly endorsed his religion in his campaign advertisements against Republican candidate Bill Schuette, whom Trump has endorsed.
“Donald Trump and Steve Bannon would love to see a right-wing radical like Bill Schuette elected in Michigan. You know what would be sweet justice? If we elected a 33-year-old Muslim instead of Bill Schuette. Send a message and help elect the first Muslim governor in America,” a Facebook message for Sayed said.
A 56-year-old pulmonologist named Asif Mahmood, if elected, could be the first Muslim insurance commissioner in California. While candidates such as Deedra Abboud, contesting from Arizona and Jesse Sbaih from Nevada, are fighting in the gubernatorial elections to be the first Muslim Senator in the US.
Further, four more women are fighting it out to become the first Muslim female lawmaker in Congress. These include Nadia Hashimi from Maryland, Sameena Mustafa from Illinois and Rashida Tlaib and Fayrouz Saad from Michigan, according to the report.
Many Muslim candidates in the upcoming elections are “wearing their religion, as a badge of honour”.
Some political analysts and candidates have opined that even if no Muslim candidate wins a seat in the gubernatorial elections, the “blue Muslim wave” would still have achieved the objectives.
They have said that the American public will grow more “accustomed” to seeing more Muslim candidates in the political sphere. Aspiring Muslim youth, in particular, would like to share their ordeals and cultural values with the public.