“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.”
Reports indicate that as many as 90 Muslim-American candidates have run for statewide or national office during 2018, which is by far the most since Sept. 11, 2001 when everything changed for Muslims in America.
Muslim Americans running for elected office in numbers not seen since before terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. https://t.co/U8Bl5DntgC
— The Associated Press (@AP) July 16, 2018
And, according to the Associated Press, 50 of those candidates remain while the others were eliminated after their primaries. That number is four times higher than the dozen Muslim-American candidates who campaigned for office during the election cycle just two years ago.
Primary elections in Michigan and Minnesota could reduce the number further, but no matter what happens there will still be more Muslim candidates than ever before.
Jetpac, a nonprofit group that helps train Muslim-American candidates, said there are nine Muslim congressional candidates up for election this year, while 18 others are campaigning for seats in state legislatures, and 10 are running for statewide offices.
Most Muslim candidates are members of the Democratic Party and are running as Democrats. There are reports that many of them have faced a backlash and Islamophobic rhetoric from their Republican opponents. The Post reports that “the path to victory can be tougher for a Muslim American. Some promising campaigns already have fizzled out while many more face strong anti-Muslim backlash.”
Michigan Democratic candidate for governor Abdul El-Sayed has faced bogus claims from his GOP opponent that he has ties to the radical Muslim Brotherhood, and they are continuing even as both Republicans and Democrats in Michigan have denounced the accusations as “conspiracy theories.”
In Minnesota, Rochester mayoral candidate Regina Mustafa said there have been at least two cases where anti-Muslim threats were posted on her social media accounts, causing her great concern.
Arizona U.S. Senate candidate Deedra Abboud also has received a large number of anti-Muslim attacks on Facebook. It was such a big problem that outgoing Republican senator Jeff Flake had to come to her defense on Twitter.
For her part, Abboud has remained strong and defiant, saying:
“I’m a strong believer that we have to face this rhetoric. We can’t ignore it or pretend like it’s a fringe element anymore. We have to let the ugly face show so that we can decide if that is us.”
Abboud has also had right-wing militant groups such as the Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights and the Proud Boys hold armed protests during her campaign events in attempts at intimidation.
Muslim-American candidates are not the only members of a minority group running for office this year. There have been reports of a significant national trend of many members of all minority groups becoming candidates for political office in this year’s election cycle.
In addition, the AP reported earlier this year that record numbers of female candidates are also running for House seats this year.
Donald Trump’s white supremacist language, attitudes and supporters have been designed to put down women and minorities and to make them afraid. What we are seeing, however, is that the opposite has happened.
All of the groups attacked by Trump are fighting back in the best way possible: by running for political office and going through the democratic process of taking control of government. This is what must happen if we are take out country back, and get it out of the hands of the racists, the misogynists, and the bigots who feel that Trump’s ascendancy has made their hateful and outdated attitudes legitimate.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.