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Muslim Americans Make Gains in Chicago Political Effort

Two of the seven candidates supported by the non-profit Project Mobilize, known as Project M in the southwest suburbs of the Midwestern U.S. city Chicago, won their races in municipal elections April 5. Project Mobilize views the election as an important first step to get the Muslim American community more involved in local politics.

Ahmed Aduib is a newly elected board member for the Bridgeview Public Library in a southwest suburb of Chicago. "Our library is in a nice area and they just rebuilt it so the question now is how to make that new library full," Aduib said.

Aduib represents the growing Muslim-American community in Bridgeview. He says making the library full depends on how well it reaches out to the different ethnic communities in the area.

"We do not just have a Muslim-American Community. We have a Polish-American community; we have a Spanish-American community, so there are different communities that we can reach out to and start making connections. Just for the library, and I think that is where everything starts, especially for the younger generation." Aduib said.

Aduib was one of seven Muslim-American candidates supported by Project Mobilize in municipal elections April 5 in suburban Chicago. Two of the seven candidates were elected. Aduib, who won his race uncontested, said the overall results are still an accomplishment.

"I do not think there are any disappointments. Two out of the seven, for a group of new candidates who started off pretty late actually, so two out of the seven is a great accomplishment," Aduib said.

Project Mobilize Director Reema Ahmad says low voter turnout across the suburbs may have been a factor for those candidates who lost their races.

"I think there is voter apathy among all groups, all segments of the community. It was not only the Muslim American who were voting yesterday or not voting, but in communities all across the municipalities we were working in, all across the country and the state, so I am not going to say this is something exclusive to the Muslim-American community, but I will say that for the Muslim-American community this is very much a learning process still," Ahmad said.

Ahmad says this was the first full-scale election effort for Project Mobilize. The organization hopes to use the lessons learned here as an education tool for future elections.

"The idea of coming out on a non-presidential election to cast a ballot is still going to be something that we are working towards, becoming more and more of a habit and a matter of practice instead of something unique because there are specific candidates on the ballot," Ahmad said.

As Project Mobilize builds on the foundation formed while preparing for the April 5 elections, Aduib hopes his successful race will encourage other Muslim Americans to fulfill their civic duty.

"This shows them that look, this is not a foreign idea to get active. It is not something weird. And if you do want to get active, there are options to get active and we can help you to get active. So I think it just shows them that look, do not be scared," Aduib said.

Aduib says while he is encouraged by the results of this first election effort, he remains uncertain whether or not politics will be his chosen professional career path.