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.”