To coincide with the first Muslim Caucus conference, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Justice Education Technology Political Advocacy Center (Jetpac) and Muslim Power Change Tuesday released an updated version of their report, 'The Rise of American Muslim Changemakers,' documenting the 323 American Muslims who ran for public office since the election of Donald Trump in 2016 and the subsequent rise in anti-Muslim bigotry.
A total of 323 candidates ran or are running for elected office between 2016 and 2019 at various levels of government despite the overwhelming anti-Muslim narrative in the public sphere, according to the report.
Of this total, 117 candidates, or a full 36 percent, were female, proving once more that gender-based stereotypes that diminish the role of American Muslim women in community life are more myth than reality.
323 candidates ran a total of 342 campaigns: 173 for local office, 73 for state legislatures, and 32 for Congress. The remainder were for county (27), judiciary (20), statewide seats (11) or party positions (6).
The top five states that saw the highest number of Muslim candidates running for office were: New Jersey (86), Michigan (55), California (27), Minnesota (26), Illinois (20).
American Muslims candidates raised nearly $17 million during this period for their various campaigns.
The report pointed out that African-American Muslim candidates like Cleveland City Councilman Basheer Jones and Massachusetts attorney Tahirah Amatul-Wadud have carried the legacy of African-American Muslim contributions to the formal political arena. They laid the groundwork and set the precedent for their coreligionists to be grassroots-oriented, service-committed and unapologetically Muslim.
Rising Islamophobia in US
The Muslim Caucus conference comes at a time when rights groups have documented an increase in Islamophobic attacks on Muslim communities and individuals.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) recorded a 17 percent increase in anti-Muslim bias incidents in 2017. It also documented 300 hate crimes against Muslim Americans in 2017, a 15 percent increase from the previous year.
"Trump's xenophobic rhetoric, both prior to and during the course of his presidency, emboldened those who sought to express their anti-Muslim bias and provided a veneer of legitimacy to bigotry in the public sphere," CAIR said in its 2018 Civil Rights Report.
Love, a professor at Dickinson
"Here we are in a way that's unprecedented since at least the 1960s. We have the American president speaking from the bully pulpit of the White House, speaking as the leader of the free world, using explicitly racist language directed at members of Congress," he told Al Jazeera.
In addition to pursuing policies, such as rescinding the travel ban and rolling back discriminatory counter terror operations like the FBI's use of confidential informants in Muslim communities, engaging with Muslims at an historic event like this week's Muslim Collective for Equitable Democracy should be a priority for politicians and presidential candidates, Love said.
"An event like this is really important because it highlights the way that Islamophobia is not a small sideshow in American politics; it is central to the way that American politics plays out today," Love said.
(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).