Once GOP stalwarts, Muslim voters turned left in politics over 20-year shift in NJ. Here’s why

Sherine El-Abd, a longtime Republican activist in New Jersey, said she was “not blind” to anti-Muslim comments made by President Donald Trump. But as a Muslim, she doesn’t feel compelled to walk away from the GOP, a party that she says represents her values.

“The Republican Party has focused on family values. That’s Islam. That doesn’t mean there aren’t bigots. They exist in both parties,” said El-Abd, of Clifton, a former president of the New Jersey Federation of Republican Women.

But El-Abd and other Republicans have a growing challenge: how to rekindle Muslim loyalty to a political party that many feel has alienated them. Twenty years ago, Muslims in Americaleaned heavily Republican, drawn by the GOP’s conservative social and economic profile. Today, most identify as Democrats and are largely united in opposition to anti-Muslim rhetoric and policies pushed by members of the GOP — exemplified by Trump’s “Muslim ban.”


How Religion Can Help Put Our Democracy Back Together

Eventually, we will need to rebuild our shared political norms. Faith should be part of the solution.

At my synagogue, Temple Micah in Washington, D.C., we often read this short poem at Friday night Shabbat services:

As You taught Torah

to those whose names I bear,

teach me Torah, too.

Its mystery beckons,

yet I struggle with its truth.

You meant Torah for me:

did You mean the struggle for me, too?

Don’t let me struggle alone;

help me to understand,

to be wise, to listen, to know …

Lead me into the mystery.

That poem’s simple idea has for years struck me as a particularly beautiful statement of the purpose of organized faith. The basis of religion, sociologist Daniel Bell once observed, is “the awareness of men of their finiteness and the inexorable limits to their powers, and the consequent effort to find a coherent answer to reconcile them to that human condition.” He argued that the “world has become too scientistic and drab.” Humans, he continued, “want a sense of wonder and mystery.”


Muslims in the U.S. are more politically engaged than ever, study finds

The number of Muslim Americans who are registered to vote has shot up since 2016.

Oct. 28, 2020, 12:03 PM EDTBy Sakshi Venkatraman

Muslim Americans are more politically engaged and registered to vote in 2020 than ever before, a report published last week says.

According to a poll by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, 78 percent of eligible Muslim voters in the United States are registered to cast their ballots this year, compared with just 60 percent who were registered in 2016.

“Muslim Americans have become so politicized,” the institute’s research director, Dalia Mogahed, told NBC Asian America. “They command way more attention than their numbers would suggest makes any sense. They’re 1 percent of the population, yet talked about, discussed, scapegoated so often. So it’s really important that if they’re going to be talked about that they also have a voice, that they also have a place at the table.”

After President Donald Trump took office, Muslim American satisfaction with the U.S. took a sharp decline. Since 2018, it has more or less plateaued, and since last year, it has begun to climb slightly.

The study showed that Muslim American support for President Donald Trump has also climbed by a small margin since 2016, though it is lower than the group’s support for any other candidate, including all Democratic Primary contenders.


St. Francis and Egypt’s Ruler (Part 1)

The painting of St. Francis embracing Egypt’s Sultan Malik al-Kamil is on the first page of my website. It graces my Twitter handle. After nine years, I finally get to explain it, and this with the help of acclaimed 2009 book by journalist and professor of journalism Paul Moses, The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam, and Francis of Assisi’s Mission of Peace.

I’ll do this in two installments. Here, I lay out the story according to the best historical sources, mostly uncovered and critically evaluated in the 20th century. Next, I’ll take us on a short historical journey to illustrate how religious narratives are driven by people with power, and in this case, by popes who were determined to continue the Crusades against the Muslim Other and crush dissenting voices.

Francis of Assisi’s conversion

Francis’s father, Pietro di Bernardone, a wealthy silk merchant from Assisi, Italy, was in France where he conducted much of his business (his mother was a French noble woman from Provence) when his son Giovanni was born. But Pietro called him Francesco (“Frenchy”) from the start. French troubadours’ songs and chivalry were popular in his family.


Muslim world condemns Macron, France over treatment of Islam

‘Boycott French products’ launched over Macron’s Islam comments

The French debate on Islam was deepened after the beheading of a teacher who had shown caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad – previously published by a satirical magazine – in a class on freedom of expression. Muslims believe that any depiction of the Prophet is blasphemous.

On Friday, the cartoons were projected onto government buildings in France. Earlier this month, Macron described Islam as a religion “in crisis” worldwide and vowed to present a bill in December to strengthen a law that officially separated church and state in France.

Since Friday, social media has been awash with criticism of Macron in countries from west to east, including the UK, Kuwait, Qatar, Palestine, Egypt, Algeria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

People are pouring out their feelings under the English hashtags #BoycottFrenchProducts and #Islam and #NeverTheProphet in Arabic.

The social media campaign has led to several Arab trade associations to announce their boycotts of French products.

The spat has drawn in world leaders as people in Muslim-majority countries organise street protests.


‘You cannot stop our vote.’ Minnesota faith leaders say efforts to discourage Muslim voters will fail.

Minnesota’s Muslims plan to vote during this contentious election season, no matter who tries to stop them and what tactics they use. 

That was the message at a news conference led by faith groups in Minneapolis’ Cedar Riverside neighborhood Friday.

“We will not allow our voices to be silenced,” said Mohamed Ibrahim, deputy director of CAIR-Minnesota. “Not only that, we will also not allow for our votes to be suppressed.”

The event outside the Cedar Riverside Apartments capped a tumultuous week in which President Donald J. Trump and right-wing activists attempted to cast doubts on the integrity of voting in the Somali community.

Faith leaders from Islamic Association of North America, Muslim American Society – MN, Faith in Minnesota, and CAIR-Minnesota were joined by Christian and Jewish leaders as well as elected officials, including Attorney General Keith Ellison and state Reps. Melissa Hortman, Aisha Gomez, and Mohamud Noor. 

“Every election year there is a playbook used by some politicians,” said Imam Hassan Jama, the executive director of the Islamic Association of North America. “The playbook is to use Muslims, Somalis, refugees, and immigrants as scapegoats in order to divide people by what they look like or where they came from instead of offering solutions that could help all of our families.”



A large canopy tent stood Monday afternoon in a lot adjacent to Redeemer Lutheran Church, 1905 W. Wisconsin Ave. Under it stood rows of metal chairs, carefully spaced six-feet apart in every direction. A forest of red, white, and blue yard signs lined the street urging passersby, VOTE!

The scene was set for the Interfaith Candlelight Rally Kick Off for Early Voting. On the eve of Wisconsin’s two weeks of early voting (Oct. 20 – Nov. 1), a diverse group of religious and cultural organizations brought together faith leaders to “light up Milwaukee” and inspire their communities to vote.

The Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition and the Wisconsin Muslim Civic Alliance lent their support to the effort as sponsors of the event.

Other sponsors included MICAH (Milwaukee Intercity Congregations Allied for Hope), Souls to the Polls, League of Progressive Seniors, Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, Voces de la Frontera, Buddhist Peace Fellowship, Congregation Shir Hadash, Hmong American Women’s Association, MASH, Milwaukee Area Labor Council, Progressive Baptist Church, SEIU, Tikkun Ha-lr and Urban Underground.

Redeemer Lutheran Church served as host. “Redeemer is a great location and we like to host. We pride ourselves on our hospitality,” said Pastor Lisa Bates-Froiland in an interview after the event. “To remind people to vote the day before early voting starts is so close to our mission. As citizens, we are called on to live out our responsibilities as we can.”

By 5:30 p.m., when the rally started in earnest, amid a chill in the air and light snow, more than 150 people of multiple creeds and cultures joined together to share music and speeches, and to raise candles in celebration of the right to vote.


Pope, Religious Leaders Pray for Peace and Greater Care for Each Other

Pope Francis, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, Muslim, Jewish and other religious leaders attend an encounter to pray for peace in Piazza del Campidoglio in Rome Oct. 20, 2020. (CNS photo/Paul Haring

ROME (CNS) — The only way to end war and ensure humanity’s survival is “through encounter and negotiation, setting aside our conflicts and pursuing reconciliation, moderating the language of politics and propaganda, and developing true paths of peace,” Pope Francis said.

The pope, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and an international array of other Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Sikh and Buddhist leaders gathered on Rome’s Capitoline Hill Oct. 20 to affirm their community’s commitment to peace, dialogue, fraternity and assistance to the poor and needy.

Before coming together to make their peace pledge, the religious leaders gathered with members of their own faith families to pray, focusing on the theme, “No one is saved alone: Peace and fraternity.”


France, the way to Islamic reformation is to challenge institutions — not stigmatize Muslims

Opinion by Ezzedine C. FishereOct. 20, 2020 at 2:26 p.m. EDTAdd to list

Earlier this month, French President Emmanuel Macron announced plans to regulate Islam in France and clamp down on so-called Islamic separatism. His statement drew criticism immediately, obscuring a deeper point. Recent events underscore the need for a reformed reading of Islam. But such reformation will not be brought about by stigmatizing Islam or Muslim communities, as the French president did. What is needed is to challenge Muslim institutions to take a clear position on Islamic jurisprudence justifying violence.

Macron’s speech of Oct. 2 wasn’t supposed to be a criticism of Islam. It was a policy statement about cracking down on “radical Islamist” influence among French Muslims to prevent their transformation into a “counter-republican” community. However, Macron’s bizarre remark that Islam “is in crisis all over the world today” unsurprisingly got most of the attention in the Middle East. The response was swift.

Countless voices in the Middle East and beyond decried French anti-Muslim bias, both now and during its colonial past, and warned that Macron’s remarks would trigger a far-right anti-Muslim backlash. Al-Azhar, Egypt’s leading religious authority, slammed Macron’s “racist” “hate speech” that will “inflame the feelings of two billion Muslim followers” around the world, and “block the path to constructive dialogue.” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan didn’t miss the opportunity to belittle his French nemesis, with phrases such as “beyond disrespect,” “an open provocation” and “like a colonial governor.”


French MP warns of generalized suspicion of Muslims

Lawmaker urges unity in fight against terrorism, says terrorists aim to divide society, provoke anti-Muslim sentiments


French lawmaker Adrien Quatennens has warned against a climate of generalized suspicion toward the country’s Muslims after the murder of teacher Samuel Paty by an extremist last Friday in the suburbs of Paris.

Quatennens, an LFI Party member of the parliament hailing from the Nord Department, appeared on franceinfo television Tuesday morning and in his appearance called for unity in the fight against terrorism. He said he believes that terrorists have a goal to divide the French society, and that they aim “a cleavage between Muslims and the rest of the population.”

At the same time, Quatennens recognized the peril in making sweeping conclusion on the matter.

“This cleavage must therefore be refused. We must fight against Islamist terrorism, but not have a logic of generalized suspicion,” he added.

“When attacks like those in Conflans are committed, millions of our fellow citizens suffer to see that this barbarism is committed in the name of their god.”

Samuel Paty, a 47-year-old father who taught history and geography at Bois-d’Aulne College in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine in the Yvelines north of the capital, was decapitated Friday by Abdoullakh Anzorov, an 18-year-old man of Chechen origin. The suspect was gunned down by police.

The teacher, during one of his classes on freedom of expression, had shown controversial cartoons depicting Muslim Prophet Muhammad, according to the reports.

Muslim leaders across France have condemned the murder, stressing that extremists abuse religion for their goals and their actions cannot be justified through Islam.

Community leaders expressed their concern that the recent attack would again stigmatize French Muslims and increase Islamophobic views.