OHIO – Recognizing their potential powers in next American presidential election, American Muslims have been organizing themselves in swing states to make their voices and choices heard.
“#MyMuslimVote … is focused on building grassroots Muslim political power and amplifying an authentic narrative of Muslim communities,” Mohammad Khan, campaign manager at Muslim advocacy organization MPower Change, which launched the campaign, told Fusion on Tuesday, November 1.
“There has been a lot of attention focused on Muslims to the point where it almost seems like we’re being used as a political football.”
Choosing between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, Muslim voters will flock to polling stations next Tuesday, November 8th. Polls will be open from 6AM to 7PM.
According to the Pew Research Center report in January 2016, Muslims represent just 1 to 2 percent of the country’s population.
However, the majority of the 3.3 million community lives in strategic places, or swing states, like Florida, Ohio and Virginia.
When the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Washington-based rights organization, launched its 2016 Muslims Vote campaign, the goal was to lead 1 million Muslim constituents to the voting booths.
A surge in Muslim electoral participation could have consequences beyond the presidential race, helping Democrats in down-ballot races and perhaps creating a more cohesive voting bloc in future presidential contests.
In addition to its hashtag campaign, MPower Change organized National Khutba Day, a nonpartisan event on Oct. 7 that encouraged Muslim Americans to vote (a khutba is a sermon that an imam delivers during Friday prayer).
Nearly 50 sermons were held at mosques across 17 states, including the key battleground states of Florida and Ohio.
At a National Khutba Day event in Ohio, the imam Tarek El-Messidi broadcasted his sermon via Facebook Live, attracting nearly 7,000 viewers at one point.
El-Messidi told stories from the Qur’an and life of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to encourage Muslim Americans to be active in civic engagement, and to vote in swing states like Ohio.
He reminded attendees that Republican President George W. Bush won Florida by a mere 537 votes in 2000, and that Muslim-Americans could be the deciding factor in this election: “You are in an important state—Ohio is the state that everyone is watching closely.”
For his part, MPower Change’s Khan expects there to be a “historic Muslim voter turnout on Nov. 8,” and his group is continuing to mobilize voters until then.
After the election, Khan said he plans to work with community partners to create a set of policy demands for the new administration.