News / USA

Muslim Americans Urge Community Members to Vote in Upcoming Election


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 Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs