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Overcoming Fears, US Muslims Step Into Civic Life

Overcoming Fears, US Muslims Step Into Civic Life
School board candidates for the Parkway district participate in a forum, sponsored by Muslims for a Better America, at the Islamic Center of Greater St. Louis on March 24, 2019. RNS photo by Eric Berger
  • Muslims for a Better America (MBA) has been pushing to get members of the Islamic faith more involved in civic life
  • There are about 70,000 Muslims living in the St. Louis area, according to an MBA study, but only 12,850, about 18 percent, are registered to vote.
  • While some are sometimes afraid or reluctant to register, others think that voting and participating in a democracy violates Shariah 

Overcoming their tendency to self-isolate and live within their own bubbles, candidates for Muslims for a Better America have been pushing their community to get involved in the civic life, believing that freedom and rights are claimed not granted, Religion News reported.

“There is a tendency within the Muslim community to self-isolate, to live within their own bubbles, but it’s not a one-way street where people have to accept us,” Saad Amir, the director of Muslims for a Better America, said.

“We have to go out and put in the work and that’s why this organization was created.”

Amir and other members of the local Islamic community started discussing forming an organization in 2017.

According to an MBA study, there are about 70,000 Muslims living in the St. Louis area. However, MBA reports that only 12,850 local Muslims, about 18%, are registered to vote.

The 2019 election of the school board was held yesterday where Ahsan was rivaled by Jeanie Ames, an Islamophobic candidate who tweets for banning Islam in the USA. The Muslim candidate is a real estate agent who emigrated from Pakistan in 2007 and her two children attended Parkway schools.

“I decided to run for the position because I always wanted to say thank you to the district for helping my kids and making them have a successful career. This’s a service I can do for the district,” Ahsan told the audience.

The MBA forum was co-sponsored by the West County Community Action Network and the Council for American Islamic Relations-Missouri (CAIR), where about 50 people attended.

According to the Associated Press, Ahsan isn’t alone as a Muslim on the hustings as there were as many as 90 Muslims running for national or statewide offices during the last election cycle.

According to Emgage, a Muslim civil rights group, up to 100 Muslims filed to run for statewide or national office this year.

November elections were a huge success for Muslim candidates as well after two Muslim women were elected for the first time to Congress.

A number of Muslims also won seats in city councils, while Keith Ellison, who rose to national prominence as the first Muslim elected to Congress, was elected Minnesota attorney general on Tuesday.


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