Most Democrats assume that Muslim-Americans would vote Democrat due to the so-called Muslim ban that Trump put into place his first year in office. However, that’s not the case. Throughout the Democratic primary, many of the Muslim-American activists are getting upset because their issues aren’t being tackled by any of the candidates.
Neglected by the Dems
A number of Muslim activists are expressing concern that their communities have been neglected by 2020 presidential contenders. Although Trump is not high on the list of favorite people within Muslim communities due to the travel ban, Democrats aren’t gaining any popularity amongst voters, either.
Within the first two primary debates, taking place in June and July, the travel ban was discussed for less than two minutes. Throughout the various speeches provided by candidates on their campaign trail, it’s rarely mentioned.
According to the executive director of Emgage, Mohamed Gula, a Muslim advocacy group, identifies that the candidates aren’t taking the issue as seriously as they need to be. Although Muslim-Americans only account for approximately 1% of the American population, they don’t want to be ignored. Gula warns that I can put a “chip on her shoulder.”
Another group, Arab Women’s Voice, has the co-founder, Rabyaah Althaibani, speak out. She identifies that she is Yemeni and doesn’t know any Yemeni families that aren’t impacted personally by the Muslim ban.
In addition to not lifting the travel ban, Democratic candidates are not talking about Islamophobia or the spike in hate crimes against Muslim-Americans. None of the candidates have worked towards mobilizing Muslim voters, either.
The Silence is Deafening
The silence coming from the Democratic candidates on all of these issues is deafening. What’s even more deafening is the fact that Muslim activists are choosing not to speak out about the ban or any of the other issues because they don’t want to alienate voters who have Islamophobic beliefs or who are linked to some of the progressive lawmakers, such as Rashida Tlaib or Ilhan Omar.
With the issues not being addressed at all, Muslim voters are starting to pull away from the Democratic candidates. They don’t feel as though anyone is choosing to address their concerns. With more Muslims in the country than ever before, they are becoming increasingly more organized. There is evidence that they could play a bigger role within the presidential race than in years past. From 2014 to 2018, the number of voters turning out at the polls within the Muslim community has increased by 25 percent. This is particularly true within some of the key states, such as Florida, Virginia, Michigan, and Ohio. Considering the record number of Muslim Americans who have also not only run but won elections, it’s important to make sure that the Muslim-Americans have a voice.
According to some of the activists, Sanders has done more than any of the other candidates in order to reach out to Muslim voters. This includes helping to pass the bill ending the U.S. involvement within Yemen’s Civil War. Others choose to give credit to Elizabeth Warren for defending Omar and O’Rourke for talking about the travel ban throughout some of the presidential debates.
Another area where there is deafening silence is within the media. Some of the Muslim Democrats are not criticizing candidates but criticizing the media. This is because the news outlets are not posing the important questions about the travel ban and some of the other important issues. As Minnesota Atty. Gen., Keith Ellison, identifies, they should be asking about the Muslim ban. He also added that many activists are disappointed with the presidential candidates but shouldn’t lose sight of how the two parties differ. This is likely because he sees how it would be very easy for some of the Muslims to turn towards Trump since they’re not getting the answers from the Democrats.
Later this month, the Islamic Society of North America will be holding their annual convention in Houston. This will provide the opportunity for Democratic presidential candidates to speak directly to many of the activists. According to Gula, approximately 20,000 people are expected to attend. Julian Castro and Bernie Sanders have already confirmed their attendance. As for the other presidential candidates, their RSVPs are still pending.
If the Democratic candidates don’t start addressing the Muslim community one of two things are going to happen. They are either going to vote for Trump because of not trusting the Democrats to get the job done or they are going to avoid going to the polls entirely. Either way, it means that Democrats are going to lose out in the polls because of their inability to address many Americans.