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Bernie Sanders and Castro Bring Message to US Muslims at ISNA Convention

Texas Mass Shooting

Immediately before Castro and Sanders took the stage, the US faced the news of yet another mass shooting and the second in Texas in just four weeks. A gunman, who was killed by police, took the lives of seven innocent people before he died as he sped through the Texas towns of Odessa and Midland, shooting people from his vehicle.

Though the candidates have spoken about the need for action on gun control, the timely incident put the ongoing issue front and center during the convention.

Sanders said standing up to the NRA, the US’s powerful gun lobby is key to making a bold change.

“We have a Republican Party in the Senate that is intimidated by the NRA,” he said. “I won’t be intimidated by the NRA.”

Both men argued for nationwide background checks and closing the loopholes which enable gun sales at gun shows without a background check. Sanders also called for an end to the sale and distribution of assault weapons, arguing it’s what most Americans want.

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Muslim Opinion

Dina Abdelrahman, who attended Sanders’ speech, said she was impressed by how much the Vermont senator seems to care about Muslims personally. She said she voted for him in the 2016 Democratic primary when he ran against Hillary Clinton.

Though she’s as yet undecided on who she’ll support in the 2020 Democratic primaries, she believes Sanders to be the most authentic of the crowd and she appreciates his seeming support of the Palestinian people.

However, she stopped short of saying Sanders could win against the president.

“I don’t know if he can beat Trump,” she said and pondered if she should throw her support behind current frontrunner Joe Biden, the former vice president under Obama.

Worries of who might have the best chance of defeating Trump make it hard for some Muslim voters to throw their support behind their preferred candidate.

Abdelrahman said she favors Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, whom she called a strong woman, over any of the other Democratic candidates. However, she doubts whether Americans would elect a woman as president.

“I don’t know if the misogyny here is ever going to end,” she said. “So I think I might have to vote for Biden because the fear of another four years of Donald Trump is so intense.”

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