News / USA

Muslim Americans Urge Community Members to Vote in Upcoming Election

Multimedia

Representatives Keith Ellison from Minnesota and Andre Carson from Indiana are currently the only Muslim American members of Congress. But they represent a growing segment of the U.S. population that is often in the spotlight as a result of racial profiling and religious intolerance.

In an effort to seek better representation in Washington, many Muslim American communities across the country are organizing voting drives to ensure those that can vote, have their voices heard in the upcoming midtern elections.  

It is a cool and unusually windy evening in the suburban Chicago community of Bridgeview.

Not far from the local mosque, which towers over the homes in this predominately Muslim-American neighborhood, Kuwaiti-born Palestinian Alaa is knocking on doors.

With the November 2 mid term election just days away, Alaa is trying to make sure those who can, vote.

Voting is a right not extended to Alaa. "By 1993 we came to the United States on a visa, I was seven years old, I had no idea what was going on at that age, the visa expired, and we stayed.  And we've been here ever since 1993," she said.

Alaa is one of an estimated ten million undocumented immigrants living illegally in the United States. Because she is not a U.S. citizen, she does not have the right to vote, which fuels her efforts to make sure those who can, exercise that right. "With citizenship comes responsibility, and I feel that it's very important that we get that out to the Muslim community so they go out and vote," she said.

On the streets, and on the phone.

Maryam Al-Zoubi of the New American Democracy Project, or NADP, works side by side with Alaa to get out the Muslim-American vote. "I think that voting helps our other neighbors and our other government officials realize that yes, we are Americans, and the xenophobia we have towards Muslims is incorrect," she said.

Al Zoubi says immigration reform is one issue among many concerns she hears about from registered voters she meets in the Muslim American community. "There are a lot of issues that the Muslim community wants to be heard about - for example Islamaphobia, religious tolerance, racial profiling.  What we do is we try to tell our elected officials why we vote, but in a very non-partisan way because we want all our elected officials to respect us and to stand with us."

In the nearby community of Summit on Chicago's Southwest side, Reema Ahmad goes one step further. "We are distributing endorsement cards, laying out candidates out who have specifically asked for the support of the Muslim community, have committed themselves to supporting initiatives on behalf of the Muslim community when they are elected to office so we are really bridging that gap," Ahmad said.

Ahmad is the Director of the recently formed Project Mobilize, which has a goal of eventually fielding Muslim American candidates for office. "This is really the next logical step towards us fulfilling our political aspirations. It's about developing that potential, ensuring that people who have aspirations to hold public office know how to get into those positions and garner the support they need," Ahmad said.

But Gerald Ahnkerson with the Council on American Islamic Relations in Chicago says many in the Muslim American community remain divided on the impact of their vote. "Even with the election cycle there is much argument and debate whether Muslims should be involved.   One way or another we are living here, and our life is being impacted by whether or not we decide to offer our voice and our balance.  So most definitely religion may factor into it on certain issues, such as immigration reform, such as protecting first amendment rights, because we definitely want to see that our faith is not impeded for us to be truly considered Americans," he said.

There are approximately half a million Muslim Americans living in the greater Chicago area. In the city's upcoming elections in 2011, one Muslim American candidate is on the ballot. Ahmed Khan is running for Alderman in Chicago's 50th Ward.

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid