In a different election year, Bilal Durrani, a busy electrical engineering student at the Wentworth Institute of Technology, might have ignored the background noise of a presidential campaign.
But when Durrani saw a voter registration table at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center in Roxbury earlier this year, he stopped and did the paperwork.
“After hearing what Donald Trump’s had to say,” he said, “it’s become an obligation to vote.”
Although Trump’s harsh rhetoric regarding Muslims has proved to be hugely popular with his supporters, it is also uniting and galvanizing Muslim voters, spurring unprecedented voter registration drives and get-out-the-vote efforts in their communities, including mosques in Boston, Lawrence, and Sharon.
And those initiatives are targeting potential swing states, such as Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, and Virginia.
“Sometimes, you need a catastrophe or a threat to bring people together,” said Hazem Bata, secretary general of the Islamic Society of North America, whose 53rd annual convention in Chicago over Labor Day weekend offered prime booth space to four organizations helping attendees register people to vote. “Donald Trump is our catastrophe.”