CALIFORNIA – As Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump continues to flare anti-Muslim hatred in political circles, two Muslim refugees-turned politicians are giving the best response to bigotry by running in November election to represent and serve their community.
The campaign received contributions from “Muslims across America I have never even met,” 27-year-old Afghan-American Ahmad Rafah, who is seeking a seat on the Santa Clara City Council, California, told Dean Obeidallah from the Daily Beast on Wednesday, October 26.
“They understand the significance of our voice being heard in American politics—especially given Trump’s divisive words.”
Rahad is not new to politics.
He worked for Rep. Mike Honda as a tech and business policy adviser and liaison to Santa Clara.
His website states, in bold print: “I was born in a refugee camp during my parents’ escape from war torn Afghanistan.”
Growing up in San Diego, which is more conservative than Santa Clara, Rafah recalled his first day at school, which, to him, is considered the toughest. day of all.
“That’s the day when teachers would mangle my name and the other students would laugh and mock me,” he told me.
“By running for office and hopefully winning, my hope is that no one laughs at or bullies the next Ahmad because that name is now more familiar,” he said.
Like many American Muslims, he wanted to become a doctor, and was even accepted to medical school.
After he became active in community events, he noticed that “no one looked like me, no one else was Muslim, and definitely no one had the name Ahmad.”
“I wanted to become more active in politics so that our community’s voice would be represented.”
In Minnesota, there’s 33 year-old Somali-American Ilhan Omar, the Democratic nominee for state representative in district 60B.
Omar’s campaign bio explains, “Born in Somalia, Ilhan and her family fled the country’s civil war when she was eight. The family spent four years in a refugee camp in Kenya before coming to the United States.”
Though she is a Muslim, she is running campaign grounded in progressive agendas predicated on standing up for all Americans, regardless of faith or lack thereof.
“I work for equality and I work to make sure our systems are just for all of us,” Omar said.
In November, Omar will face Republican Abdimalik Askar, an educator and community activist.
Over the past months, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has been accused of fueling anti-Islamic sentiment, pointedly calling for Muslims to be prevented from entering the United States in December last year.
The rhetoric has made a surge in anti-Muslim attacks.
In a 2015 hate crime statistics report, 16.1 percent of 1,140 religious hate crime victims were Muslim, up from previous years, despite the fact that overall hate crime numbers among other religious groups were declining, the FBI said.