Democrat Joe Biden snags support of prominent Muslim Americans

Activists say the importance of Muslim American voter participation in the election is greater than it has ever been.

Several prominent Muslim American elected officials endorsed Joe Biden for president in a letter organised by Emgage Action before an online summit on Monday that featured the presumptive Democratic nominee.

Among those signing the letter are Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and Indiana Congressman Andre Carson, all Democrats. Omar, one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress, served as a high-profile surrogate for Bernie Sanders before he exited the presidential race in April – making her support for Biden potentially helpful as the former vice president seeks to mobilise Muslim voters for this election.

The letter coincides with a summit that Emgage Action has titled, “Million Muslim Votes”, underscoring its emphasis on boosting Muslim turnout in November. Biden addressed the gathering on Monday.

“Joe Biden’s presence serves not only to galvanise Muslim Americans to cast their ballots, but to usher in an era of engaging with Muslim American communities under a Biden administration,” said Wa’el Alzayat, CEO of Emgage Action.

“We anticipate that a Biden administration would provide Muslim American communities platforms to speak on issues affecting us, represent us within the administration and in policymaking discourses.”

The pro-Biden letter from Muslim American elected officials decried a number of President Donald Trump’s domestic and international policies, including his administration’s ban on travellers from several predominantly Muslim countries and his pullout from the Iran nuclear deal.

“Our number one goal is to remove Donald Trump from office and to replace him with someone who can begin to heal our nation,” the letter said. “A Biden administration will move the nation forward on many of the issues we care about,” it said, citing racial justice, affordable healthcare, climate change and immigration.

“Negative enthusiasm” against another Trump term, he added, “is going to be the glue that holds Muslim voters together. And if you make them feel valued, they are much more likely to turn out.”

Farooq Mitha, senior adviser for Muslim engagement with Biden’s campaign, said reaching out to Muslim American voters is a priority for Biden, pointing to his own appointment as an example. The campaign has hosted events with Muslim Americans and met with community leaders over the past months, he said.

“A Biden presidency offers Muslims an opportunity to be engaged with government, rather than being shut out like many other groups that have been alienated and demonized by the Trump administration,” he said in response to emailed questions. “Muslim communities can have an outsized impact in many states and we are working every day to earn their support.”

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