About 90 American Muslims, members of “Muslim Brotherhood” all of them Democrats, will run for public offices across America this year. Vying for a wide range of positions, from local school boards to the US Senate, many of them are making their Muslim identity central to their campaigns. Here are some of them:
- Fayaz Nawabi, a candidate for San Diego City Council, supports almost everything that the American President Donald Trump opposes. He’s pro-affordable housing, pro-environment, pro-immigrant and pro-refugee. Nawabi’s concepts make him part of the blue wave of new liberal candidates, but he’s also part of a notable subset: the blue Muslim wave.
“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,” the 31-year-old Muslim Afghan told Washington Post while talking about the triggers behind his political campaign. Nawabi explained that the election campaign of the current American President Donald Trump, who called for monitoring mosques and banning Muslims from entering the US, delivered a jolt to American Muslims.
Another example in Michigan, where 13 Muslim candidates are running for office, is physician Abdul El-Sayed who hopes voters will elect him to be the first Muslim governor in the US history. The Muslim doctor used his religion in campaign ads against Republican front-runner Bill Schuette, whom Trump has endorsed. There are more than 3 million Muslims living in America, while two of them hold positions at the 535-seat Congress.
Some 50 years ago, a small portion of African Americans embraced Islam as a pathway to political empowerment and civil rights, and today their descendants are members of the US military, police officers, city council members, and career civil servants. Nevertheless, the situation is significantly different now with immigrants forming as much as about two-thirds of the American Muslim community.
“A lot of these people feel like, ‘I’m just going to make my money, put my head down. They feel political involvement puts a target on their backs because that’s what it meant to authoritarian regimes where they came from,” Nawabi explained.
Some Muslim advocacy groups, such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and ‘Emgage’, formerly called Emerge USA, have spent years training young political activists, tracking rising politicians and running get-out-the-vote campaigns, particularly in immigrant communities after the 9/11 terrorist attacks set off an anti-Muslim backlash.