CAIRO – Mobilizing Ohio Muslims, Democrat presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders has personally called Mahdi Taakilo, a Somali American community organizer and journalist in Ohio, winning the hearts of the huge Ohioan Somali community.
“I don’t think Hillary Clinton can beat Trump,” Taakilo, 39, a Somali American community organizer and journalist in Columbus, Ohio told The Daily Beast.
“She takes everybody for granted.”
On Saturday, Bernie Sanders personally called Taakilo, who came to Ohio fleeing warfare in Somalia in the 1990s. The call proved more effective that Clinton’s staffers who gave him a ring to tell him that she was the only choice.
The move succeeded in winning the hearts of Somali Americans who live in central Ohio and estimated by more than 38,000.
For Somalis, almost all of whom are Muslims, Donald Trump’s rise is terrifying with his talk of banning Muslims and saying, “Islam is at war with us.”
The hateful rhetoric by Trump was actually driving thousands of young Muslims to polls to pull the lever for Sanders.
Jamal Ali, a 24-year-old Somali-American student at the Ohio State University, where he majors in International Studies with a focus in Intelligence and Security, is one of the Somali Americans who feel the Bern.
Ali is part of the Somali Youth Community, a non-partisan group that organizes volunteer activities for young Somalis in Columbus.
“Sanders is my guy,” Jamal Ali, a 24-year-old Somali-American student at Ohio State University said.
“Even though he’s a socialist, that doesn’t actually deter me from voting for him or endorsing him or spreading the word for him.”
Putting much focus on education, Somali and Arab Americans find Sanders’ promise of free public education most appealing.
“Bernie appeals to students, and all my friends are in undergrad or graduate school,” Ali said.
Brian Meyers, 51, a Sanders volunteer who lives in Circleville, Ohio south of Columbus, said that immigration policy was another positive point in Sanders’ record.
“From what I understand, they like his immigration policy,” Meyers said, and have found it hard to vote in the past.
“One Somali woman told me they’d like to go to the polls with an American. I told her ‘Well we’re all Americans.’ And she said ‘Yeah, but you know what I mean.’”
Moreover, Sanders’ history as part of the civil rights movement for most of his life, getting arrested at protests in the ’60s and consistently speaking out against racism, has won many hearts.
Robert McCaw government affairs director at the Council on American Islamic Relations said Muslim American youth are broadly in support of Sanders.
“I know a lot of active lot proactive Muslim activists that are in the Sanders camp,” McCaw said.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if the Muslim youth vote turned out in high numbers and ended up voting for Sanders. He’s been doing a lot to court Muslim voters.”