MASSACHUSETTS – An unprecedented number of Muslim Americans are running for national and statewide offices this election cycle in USA.
According to VOA News, the Muslim American community has never witnessed such a high number of candidates since at least the 9/11 Attacks; it has now reached up to 90 candidates.
From Congress to state legislatures and school boards, analysts believes that Muslim Americans spurred to action as a result of the Islamophobic policies and rhetoric of President Donald Trump and his supporters.
One of these 90 candidates is the first-time election runner, Tahirah Amatul-Wadud, who campaigns for Congress in western Massachusetts.
The 44-year-old Muslim, African-American civil rights lawyer, who is taking on a 30-year congressman and ranking Democrat on the influential House Ways and Means Committee, said: “I wasn’t alone, as encouragement, volunteers and donations started pouring in.”
Many, like Amatul-Wadud, hope to ride the surge of progressive activism within the Democratic Party to propel the Democrats back to power in next November.
But recent primaries have whittled the field down to around 50 Muslim candidates, “a number that still far exceeds the dozen that ran in 2016,” said Shaun Kennedy, co-founder of Jetpac, a Massachusetts nonprofit that helps train Muslim-American candidates.
Still, the path to victory can be tougher for a Muslim American than other candidates. Some promising campaigns already have fizzled out while many more face strong Islamophobic backlash.
In Michigan, Democrat candidate for governor Abdul El-Sayed continues to face unfounded claims even though Republican and Democratic politicians alike have denounced the accusations.
In Rochester, Minnesota, mayoral candidate Regina Mustafa has notified authorities of at least two instances where Islamophobic threats were posted on her social media accounts. Similarly in Arizona, U.S. Senate candidate Deedra Abboud received a torrent of Islamophobic attacks on Facebook.
Among the candidates to fall short were California physician Asif Mahmood, who placed third in June’s primary for state insurance commissioner. And in Texas, wealthy businessman Tahir Javed finished a distant second in his Democratic primary for Congress.
In San Diego, California, 37-year-old Republican congressional candidate Omar Qudrat declined to comment on how Islamophobia has impacted his campaign.
Next August Primaries
According to Jetpac’s tally, nine candidates for Congress are still in the running. At least 18 others are campaigning for state legislature and ten more seek major statewide and local offices, such as governor, mayor and city council.
Regarding the coming primaries in August, at least seven Muslim Americans are on the August 7 ballot in Michigan, including El-Sayed, who could become USA’s first Muslim governor.
In Minnesota, the decision by Keith Ellison, the nation’s first Muslim congressman, to run for state attorney general has set off a political frenzy for his congressional seat that includes two Muslim candidates, both Democrats: Ilhan Omar, the country’s first Somali-American state lawmaker, and Jamal Abdulahi, a Somali-American activist.
There, former state Rep. Rashida Tlaib has raised more money than her Democratic rivals. Moreover, the former Obama administration official, Fayrouz Saad, is also running as a Democrat.
Either could become the first Muslim woman elected to Congress, which has only ever had two Muslim members: outgoing Ellison and Rep. Andre Carson, an Indiana Democrat seeking re-election.