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Wisconsin Muslims Feel The Bern

WISCONSIN – Democrat presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders has trounced his prime challenger Hillary Clinton in the Wisconsin primary, after the Vermont senator won the support of communities often ignored by political candidates, including the state’s growing Muslim population.

“I encouraged them to make the moral choice and vote Bernie Sanders,” Linda Sarsour, a high profile civil rights activist and director of the Arab American Association of New York, spread Sanders’ message to Muslims in Milwaukee, told ThinkProgress.

“His votes against the Iraq War and against the Patriot Act, his inclusion, and [his] call for Palestinian self-determination are helping him make inroads. He’s not a perfect candidate and we don’t expect there to be a perfect candidate, but Sanders is willing to reach out and listen.”

Winning all but three of Wisconsin 72 counties, Sanders followed a similar pattern in other states by dominating among younger voters, winning more than 70 percent of independent voters.

At a massive rally in Madison on Sunday night, Sanders even tapped Sarsour to introduce him to a crowd of mostly white students.

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“Senator Sanders has welcomed all people into his campaign,” she told thousands cheering in the arena.

“I stand before you unapologetically Muslim and Palestinian. When I started campaign for Bernie, they didn’t say, ‘Don’t be too Muslim up there. Don’t bring up that Palestinian stuff.’ They accept all of me.”

Sanders’ outreach to Muslims in Wisconsin was deemed courageous, as exit polls in Tuesday’s election found that more than two-thirds of Wisconsin Republicans support Trump’s proposal to indefinitely ban all Muslims from immigrating to the United States.

“I have a lot of respect for someone who actually reaches out to Muslims, because that can get a lot of negative stigma,” said Bushra Fathima, a junior at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

“It kind of moves me.”