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American Muslims in 2020

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2020 was an election year. The seven-million-strong American Muslim Community was very active in participating enthusiastically in the US political process. A record number of American Muslims ran for public office in the 2020 US general election and 84 percent of the Muslim community voted this year. 170 candidates were on 2020 ballots across 28 states and Washington D.C. Sixty-two candidates were successfully elected to office. In comparison, 49 Muslim candidates were elected to public office in 2019 and 57 in 2018. [1]

A total of 22 Muslims ran for Congress in 14 states. Incumbents Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Andre Carson were all re-elected by their constituents to serve their districts. Mike Siegel lost a close race to represent the 10th Congressional District in Texas. 48 ran for state legislature seats in 22 states with 22 winning.

Muslim American groups and activists focused on rallying voters before Election Day setting up phone banks and virtual town halls aimed at maximizing turnout, especially in battleground states. Those efforts, they said, paid off and Michigan is an example of that.

Nearly 800,000 Muslim Americans voted early or absentee in just 12 states, according to Emgage, which collected the data from voter files in those states. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, said that roughly 1 million American Muslims voted in the election. Based on its own survey, CAIR estimated that 69% of them backed Biden [2]. (An NPR poll conducted in the days leading up to and on Election Day found that 64% of Muslim Americans voted for Biden and 35% of voted for Trump)

More than 270,000 Muslim Americans live in Michigan, making up nearly 2.75% of the state's population. More than one-third of residents in Dearborn, a suburb of Detroit, identify as Arab-American or Muslim or both. Biden defeated Trump in Wayne County, which includes Detroit and Dearborn and is the most populous county in the state. Biden beat Trump by roughly 150,000 votes in Michigan, where Hillary Clinton lost by just 11,000 votes in 2016.

Restoring the Rights of American Muslims

American Muslim civil advocacy groups welcomed the incoming Biden-Harris Administration and reminded election pledge to support American Muslims by ending the Muslim Ban on day one, including Muslims at every level of government, confronting racial and religious discrimination.

On December 26, the US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), the largest Muslim-American coalition of leading national, regional, and local community institutions, released an agenda detailing policy changes that the Biden-Harris administration should pursue within its first 100 days in office to restore the rights of Americans Muslims and advance justice for all. [3]

In addition to these pledges, USCMO is calling on the new administration to implement a progressive civil rights agenda that starts with the repeal of the Muslim Ban and then pushes forward to authorize and begin the process of carrying out civil rights reforms such as:

(1) Dismantle the TSA's secretive Quiet Skies passenger tracking program and other overbroad lists that single out law-abiding Muslim travelers for harassment and exclusion without due process. (2). End the FBI's use of informants to spy on or entrap American Muslims, especially mentally ill and otherwise vulnerable individuals. (3) Fulfill commitment to revoke the Muslim and Africa travel ban executive orders and related proclamations on day-one in office. (4) Work with Congress to repeal the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015, re-evaluate all countries currently designated by the federal government under the VWP, and end all other discriminatory anti-Muslim "extreme vetting programs."

The USCMO also urged the in-coming Biden Administration to (1) Adopt the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom's recommendation to sanction India as a violator of religious freedom for targeting Muslims. (2) Oppose the government of India's illegal revocation of Article 370 of the Indian constitution, stripping the state of Jammu and Kashmir of its protected status and laying siege to its eight million residents. (3) Hold the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to account for the brutal murder of Washington Post contributor, U.S. resident, and human rights activist Jamal Khashoggi. (4) Take concrete actions to oppose the Israeli government's illegal occupation of Palestinian territories, end the disastrous blockade of the Gaza Strip, and undo the harm President Trump caused to the Palestinian people.

American Muslims in 2020

19 years after the ghastly tragedy of 9/11, civil rights remains the major problem for the seven-million-strong American Muslim Community. Like previous years since 9/11, the American Muslim community remains at the receiving end with bigotry, to hate crimes, to widespread discrimination, to media coverage that demeans their faith and attack of mosques. Here are few examples:

In the Islamophobic environment attacks on mosques are not uncommon. In October, The Shawnee Mission Islamic Center in Merriam, Kansas, was vandalized. Someone spray painted a partly illegible message that included the word "Trump" on the sign. [4]

Harassment of Maryland Middle Eastern Family by KKK Members: In December a Maryland Middle Eastern Family was harassed by KKK Members during a visit to the Deep Creek Lake area of Garrett County, Maryland. U.S. Representative David Trone (D-Md.), who represents Garrett County, also condemned the incident saying: "The Ku Klux Klan is a domestic terrorist group, and we must fight against these abhorrent acts and this disgusting organization. Racism still very much exists across our nation, even in our own backyards. We have to identify it, root it out, and we have to be better than this. It is a shame that these acts of hate and intimidation imperil the safety that every American should feel when they travel."

Almost 40% of Muslim college students in California reported facing harassment: In November, the California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CA) released a report titled Campus Climate Report 2019-2020: Islamophobia on College Campuses and its Impact on Muslim Students which reveals that nearly 40% of the Muslim students surveyed experienced harassment or discrimination based on their religious identity by peers, campus administrators, and/or campus personnel. Notably, almost 74% of the Muslim students surveyed reported that their schools failed to make statements, accommodations, or otherwise address the effects of significant policy issues impacting their community. [5]

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
 
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