Muslims run for office in record numbers but the path is uphill

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — A liberal woman of color with zero name recognition and little funding takes down a powerful, long-serving congressman from her own political party.

When Tahirah Amatul-Wadud heard about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s stunning upset over U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley in New York’s Democratic primary last month, the first-time candidate saw parallels with her own longshot campaign for Congress in western Massachusetts.

The 44-year-old Muslim, African-American civil-rights lawyer, who is taking on a 30-year congressman and ranking Democrat on the influential House Ways and Means Committee, said she wasn’t alone, as encouragement, volunteers and donations started pouring in.

“We could barely stay on top of the residual love,” said Amatul-Wadud, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal’s lone challenger in the state’s Sept. 4 Democratic primary. “It sent a message to all of our volunteers, voters and supporters that winning is very possible.”

From Congress to state legislatures and school boards, Muslim Americans spurred to action by the anti-Muslim policies and rhetoric of President Donald Trump and his supporters are running for elected offices in numbers not seen since before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, say Muslim groups and political observers.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE SEATTLE TIMES 

Advertisements

Muslim candidates rise above Trump hostility to focus on issues

4928

Deedra Abboud, an attorney, is competing for the Democratic nomination for the US Senate in Arizona. She has never sought public office before. But she has become a fixture in national headlines – in part because of online vitriol generated by the fact she is a Muslim.

Abboud wears a headscarf. Slurs against her have included calling her a “towel head” and suggestions that Muslims should not serve in the US government.

Abboud told the Guardian she saw a “silver lining” in finally being noticed. But she also felt a familiar frustration. She is from Little Rock, Arkansas, as evidenced by her southern twang. Nonetheless, she has had to settle for being known as “the Muslim candidate”.

“I wear a scarf, I don’t want to hide it,” she said. “It’s something I want to take head-on. It’s just sometimes I think it’s relegated to only that.”

“We’re trying to change what leadership and power look like in this country,” said Fayrouz Saad, a 34-year-old from Michigan who if elected would become the first Muslim woman in the House of Representatives.

Nearly 100 Muslims are running for office at state and federal levels. Almost all are Democrats, few have held office before. Several who were interviewed by the Guardian said they did not want a disproportionate focus to be placed on their faith. Much like their opponents, they said, they wished to talk about the issues.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE GUARDIAN 

THOMAS JEFFERSON AND ISLAM AS AN AMERICAN RELIGION

JeffersonQuranAfter last year’s deliberate break with tradition, President Donald Trump has resumed the iftar dinner – the sundown meal during the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan. An estimated 3.3 million American Muslims celebrate Ramadan.

 

The month of Ramadan marks the time when Prophet Muhammad is believed to have first received revelations from God and has been celebrated at the White House since 1996. It was Hillary Clinton who started the tradition as first lady. However, last year, the Trump White House did not host the traditional reception. Neither did the State Department under Secretary Rex Tillerson, even though the holiday has been commemorated there since 1999.

Despite the relatively recent nature of these formal celebrations, the fact is that Islam’s presence in North America dates to the founding of the nation, and even earlier, as my book, “Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an: Islam and the Founders,” demonstrates.

Islam, an American religion

Muslims arrived in North America as early as the 17th century, eventually composing 15 to 30 percent of the enslaved West African population of British America. Muslims from the Middle East did not begin to immigrate to the United States as free citizens until the late 19th century. Key American Founding Fathers demonstrated a marked interest in the faith and its practitioners, most notably Thomas Jefferson.

As a 22-year-old law student in Williamsburg, Virginia, Jefferson bought a Qur’an – 11 years before drafting the Declaration of Independence.

The purchase is symbolic of a longer historical connection between American and Islamic worlds, and a more inclusive view of the nation’s early, robust view of religious pluralism.

Although Jefferson did not leave any notes on his immediate reaction to the Qur’an, he did criticize Islam as “stifling free enquiry” in his early political debates in Virginia, a charge he also leveled against Catholicism. He thought both religions fused religion and the state at a time he wished to separate them in his commonwealth.

FULL ARTICLE FROM WISCONSIN MUSLIM JOURNAL 

 

The Twisted View of Muslim Americans in the Trump Era

coney park

In a new survey from the Democracy Fund Voter Survey Group, political scientist John Sides and researcher Dalia Mogahed examine the attitudes of Americans toward their fellow citizens who are Muslim. Many of the results are not surprising, but nevertheless disturbing: Nearly 1 in 5 Americans, for example, think Muslim Americans should be denied the right to vote. And Muslim Americans are considered to be less proud of their Americanness, and more accepting of violence, than other Americans.

I recently spoke by phone with Mogahed, who directs research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, or ISPU, to discuss the study. During the course of our conversation, which has been edited and condensed for clarity, we discussed how Trump is changing the views of both Republicans and Democrats toward Muslim Americans, why terrorist attacks may matter less to public opinion than political rhetoric, and the connection between xenophobia and authoritarianism.

Isaac Chotiner: What’s your biggest takeaway from the study?

Dalia Mogahed: That there’s this enormous gulf between the reality of American Muslims and many Americans’ perception of them. As someone who studies American Muslims, I can empirically point to evidence of, say, Muslims being the least likely American faith group to condone violence, according to several studies, and yet the most likely to be associated with being predisposed to it.

FULL ARTICLE FROM SLATE 

Nearly 1-in-5 Americans would deny Muslim American citizens the right to vote, new report finds

safe_imageCurrent public perceptions of American Muslims are distinctly unfavorable.

That’s according to multiple surveys from the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group, including the 2017 Views of the Electoral Research (VOTER) Survey, which assessed viewpoints of 5,000 Americans, all of whom had been previously surveyed in 2011, 2012 and 2016.

» RELATED: Muslims in America, by the numbers

The Democracy Fund Voter Study Group is a collaboration of nearly two dozen analysts and scholars from across the political spectrum.

In the group’s new “Muslims in America: Public Perceptions in the Trump Era” report published in June, researchers found that on average, Americans believe that only 51 percent of Muslim Americans respect American ideals and laws.

Nearly one-in-five Americans would even deny Muslims who are U.S. citizens the right to vote.

Stereotyping is strongly related to cultural conservatism and views were even more polarized among those favorable to President Donald Trump, the report found. For example, Democrats believe that a majority of Muslims (67 percent) wanted to fit in, yet Republicans believed only 36 percent did. And when comparing Muslims and Christians, Democrats evaluated Muslims slightly more favorably than Christians (+15 vs +11), whereas Republicans evaluated them much less favorably (-4 vs +24).

The gap between average ratings of Muslims and Christians among Trump supporters: -10 vs +25.

FULL ARTICLE FROM AJC.COM

How Muslims, Often Misunderstood, Are Thriving in America

They’re a vibrant and increasingly visible part of the tapestry in communities across the nation.

MUSLIMS IN AMERICAThere was nothing to do but watch as the copper-domed building in the southern Texas oil town of Victoria burned down.

The mosque where Abe Ajrami’s Beyoncé-loving daughter was feted with other high school graduates, the mosque where his children went to religion classes, the mosque where he and his family went every Friday to pray and mingle over a potluck of seven-layer dip and spiced biryani, was gone.

This family reminds me of my own. My father, from Lebanon originally, also came to the United States for an education and a better future, as Ajrami did. My mother was a Unitarian Universalist, like Heidi, and she met her future husband in college and converted. My parents have raised five ambiguously tan American Muslim kids.

HOW MUSLIM AMERICANS ARE DEFENDING THEMSELVES AND THEIR COMMUNITIES AGAINST BIGOTRY

Muslim_Women_Fight_Islamophobia_With_Self_DefenseIslamophobia is becoming more widespread and systemic throughout the U.S., but Muslim Americans aren’t idly awaiting their ruin.

On an early morning last summer, Ajeyo Yusuf got the fright of his life. “I get a little bit jittery when I talk about this,” he says, recalling the incident.

That morning, the 26-year-old from Bangladesh woke up around 5 a.m. at his family’s home in Queens, New York. He was answering emails before heading into work at the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, when he saw out the window “a few burly white guys” descend the stairs to his family’s basement apartment. The men knocked on the front door and identified themselves as police, which was also emblazoned across the back of their jackets. Yusuf, though, could see through this ruse. “I knew who they were,” he says. “They had to be ICE agents.”

Yusuf and his family are just a few of the more than three million Muslims in the United States who now find themselves in the crosshairs of President Donald Trump‘s controversial immigration policies, as well as the hate groups and individual bigots who have been incited by the president’s rhetoric.

FULL ARTICLE FROM PACIFIC SOUTH MAGAZINE