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Faith and Elections | Muslims in Large numbers at DNC


Democrats Pray too – via Twitter @BasimElkarra

The Democratic National Convention was held in North Carolina this past week as the presidential race moves into its final stages. The DNC is the presidential nomination convention which marks the end of the presidential primary season and beginning of campaigning for the general election. What was distinct about this year’s convention was the record number of Muslim delegates that attended the conference.

CAIR said recent estimates place the number of Muslim delegates at more than 100, up from 43 Muslim and Arab-American delegates at the 2008 Democratic convention, and 25 at the 2004 convention.

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American Muslim delegate Cathina Hourani. She is Ohio’s first Hijabi delegate & electoral college. Photo courtesy Hussam Ayloush 

Somali-American Muslim delegate from Utah Osman Ahmed. Photo Courtesy- Hussam Ayloush

This increase in numbers is indicative of the growing civic engagement from Muslims. This comes at a crucial time when faith and ideology are starting to play key roles in this year’s elections.

Abortion, same-sex marriage and religious freedom are issues that have been repeatedly raised during this campaign. Faith of the candidates is also under strict surveillance. Romney tries to down play his Mormonism, while Obama struggles to affirm his Christianity given his father’s association with Islam and now endorsement of same-sex marriage. The Democrats have also come under heat for lacking the word ‘God’ in their platform. This criticism was so severe that democrats voted to reinstate a line from the 2008 platform embracing “God-given potential”.

Civic engagement and political participation is becoming increasingly important for Muslims; we continue to fall behind in this area. I was speaking with a friend of mine who is currently organizing Obama’s campaign and is responsible for researching and collecting polls. She expressed her disillusionment with the lack of participation from the Muslim community; many who don’t even bother voting. She explained that it is due to this attitude that candidates don’t bother going after the ‘Muslim vote’ in the way they try to chase the ‘Jewish’ or ‘Hispanic’ votes. This is despite our numbers being comparable to that of the Jewish community.

Organizing the Muslim community and presenting it as an important voting bloc is one of the main ways of gaining influence in Washington; and combating anti-Islamic rhetoric. Politicians currently don’t worry about losing the ‘Muslim vote’ when expressing their xenophobic sentiments. Ludicrous stories about a takeover by the Muslim Brotherhood can gain credibility because politicians aren’t concerned about a backlash from the Muslim community. Our political disunity allows Islamophobes to advance their agenda;
changing it is thus incumbent upon us and a step towards responsible civic engagement.

Do you vote every election? Who are you voting for this year?


The featured image is of Basim ElKarra, a delegate from California and was taken by Shahed Amanullah from a video on CNN was taken during Representative Wexler’s Israel, anti-Iran speech, Basim stood up and and waived a peace sign and yelled “We want peace now!’

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Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Waleed Ahmed writes on current affairs for MuslimMatters. His work has focused on Muslim minorities, human rights, culture and international conflicts. Currently based out of Montreal, he holds a Ph.D. in particle physics from McGill University. Waleed also has a keen interest in studying Arabic and French. He spends his spare time reading, playing basketball and praying for Jon Stewart to run in the next presidential election. contact: waleed dot ahmed at



  1. Halima

    September 9, 2012 at 2:01 AM

    Nice. I did notice one hijabi too.

  2. Hassan

    September 9, 2012 at 10:01 AM

    I am not citizen yet to vote, but if I could, I would have voted in primaries for Ron Paul, and Gary Johnson in general. I cannot vote for the main candidates at all, they are both very hostile to muslims, either by words or by actions. End results for both are more or less same.

    • Hasan

      September 9, 2012 at 10:57 AM

      Same here. I am not a Citizen yet and would have voted for Ron Paul

      • Ibrahim Shareef

        September 9, 2012 at 1:50 PM

        Ron Paul does have a lot of idealistic, flowery speeches. The image he’s portraying of himself is, indeed, a very appealing one. But, as always, we should take his voting record into account. It doesn’t match up with the things that he’s saying…

        • Waleed Ahmed

          September 9, 2012 at 2:22 PM

          lol, I loved Ron Paul too. though the thing about his voting record is interesting. Either ways, he is out….lets focus on the present and mobilize people to vote for the less worse of the two options available.

        • Hassan

          September 9, 2012 at 3:07 PM

          Actually his voting record and his speech has been amazingly consistent for 30+ years

        • Hamza21

          September 10, 2012 at 5:30 PM

          Exactly!! Paul has been congressman for 18 years and what has he accomplished? What has he produced? Nothing except Rand Paul. That’s a scary fact. Paul fanboys are like the Apple fanboys they only see what they want to see and refuse to acknowledge the truth.

  3. Pingback: Faith and Elections | Muslims in Large numbers at DNC | NEWYORKUSTAN: American Muslim Series

  4. Yasmin

    September 9, 2012 at 12:31 PM

    Jazakallah khair for this very important post! This election will be the first time that I’m eligible to vote and this great post has seriously made me reconsider my decision not to vote!

    • Waleed Ahmed

      September 9, 2012 at 2:20 PM

      glad to hear that Yasmin! go out and vote and encourage others to do so too!

  5. Hassan Ahmed

    September 9, 2012 at 3:38 PM

    Do we want to Obama to send drones to Pakistan, or do we want Romney to? Tough choice

  6. A. Seymour K

    September 12, 2012 at 8:39 PM

    Neither candidate has anything to offer Muslims; it’s just more secret prisons, secret wars, and not-so-secret drones, wrapped up into two packages; one has donkeys on the paper and one has elephants.

    I have enough to answer for before Allah on Qiyamah. I don’t want to add ‘endorsing someone who is sending drones to Pakistan and Muslims to Bagram’ to my list…

  7. Hassan Ahmed

    September 19, 2012 at 1:24 PM

    From Ustadh Abu Eesa

    I truly sympathise with my fellow
    American Muslims in their upcoming elections: choose the Islam-hating,
    Israel-obsessed, Honest, Conservative, Closer-To-Tawhid-Than-Most-Christians,
    Mitt Romney…or…the Hipster, Eloquent, Socially-Conscious, Universal
    Health Care Supporter, Left-Tawhid-Like-Most-Christians, Child-Killer By Remote Control, Drone Lover, Barack Obama.

  8. Hassan Ahmed

    September 25, 2012 at 1:13 PM

    Another take on the US election and why Romney should win:

    President Obama and the Democratic administration have embarked on a policy of seducing the Muslim Ummah, they are the good cop in the game of good cop bad cop. Their policy therefore is to differentiate themselves from the warlike Romney camp, to show themselves as culturally sensitive people that the Muslims can trust. This deception may well catch fish from among our lot. This is what is called conquest through “soft power.” Any wars waged in the future will, in public imagination, be rightly waged against us because this administration and its PR image is that of friends and well wishers of Muslims worldwide. The public and the antiwar movements, in particular, would lose legitimacy; as of course the President and the administration have been extending their hands out to us and been consistently rebuffed, or so the propaganda narrative will read.
    It is therefore in our interests to have a war hawk like Romney in the White House, so that the public knows his aggressive “hard power” approach and immediately would react with indignation and protest, like the millions that gathered in streets around the world prior to the Iraq invasion.
    With the Obama administration, you can well expect the future to be designed in such a way that they are seen to be constantly extending a friendly hand; of course to spread secular democracy and not true self determination that would result in Islamic governments ruling according to Shari’ah law as it was implemented in the days of the Ottomans, Mamluks, Ayyubids, Abbasids, Umayyads, and the Khilafah Rashidah; and us constantly refusing to ride the gravy train of secular democracy straight to the gates of Hell, painting us as the stubborn enemy that just refuses to join the “civilized world.” This methodology should make future wars and conquests in Muslim lands all the bit easier to sell in the propaganda mills collectively called Main Stream Media.

    • Hyde

      April 27, 2013 at 4:31 PM

      Praise be indeed to God, Lord of the Worlds,

      Brother you took the words right out of my mouth (or hands in this case). Obama is nothing more than a deception. In fact I think Obama was groomed to be in his position. George II initiated the reduction of freedom for the people in this country and via the Bush doctrine tried to evoke the world under a shadow of “American Democracy”….but I give George II credit (LOL at least he was a conservative) because he only laid down the plan, and Obama, a nobody, came into fill the shoes that were made for him. I mean, when was the last time a man that nobody heard of three years suddenly is trusteed into the spotlight like that? And the fact that he was black was a ploy. Look at his color, not his record; the exact opposite of what people should be looking at in the first place. Just look at what he said about issues and then juxtapose them to what his administration has actually done about it… (I highly recommend Sheldon Woolin Democracy Inc. to see the idea of “inverted totalitarianism” that has taken place in the country of ours in the last ten years or so…along with An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution by Charles Beard)

      Guantanamo bay? War[s] in Afghanistan & Iraq, &…. China? Healthcare? Palestine/Israel conflict? Debt crisis? Iran? Patriot Act? War against terror? Torture? CIA Extra-Rendition cells? TSA? Homeland security?

      Don’t get me wrong, as proud American citizen, I do recognize Obama has the commander in chief of the [so-far; Texas?] United States of America, but I am proud to say I did not vote for him.
      And you know what is next after sham election of 2006 and 2012, MR. Hilary Rodham Clinton. The women has been trying to get into the Oval Office for nearly 25 years, but of course in 2016 nobody will look at her “impeccable” diplomatic experience but will be in “shock & awe” that a women is leading the nation. Just look the club and how it rotates: “I’ll be president today and you could be tomorrow, and then I can be the security of state and then he can be president and she can lead the department of education; sectary of defense under administration, security of the IMF tomorrow…revolving door at its maximum. No thank-you, I as full citizen of the United Sates, uses my unalienable right to Not Rock the Vote!

      (“Be wary, for men can carry daggers in their similes”)

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