Thursday, August 23, 2018 12:50:39 PM
US Muslim Politician: Trump Cabinet Stacked with Islamophobes

Rashida Tlaib could be the first Muslim woman in the US Congress, but first has to defeat Detroit’s Democratic establishment.

Muslim-Americans on the ballot for congressional seats are Rashida Tlaib and Fayrouz Saad.
Rashida Tlaib for years was a state lawmaker and Fayrouz Saad was a former Obama administration official from Homeland Security. And these are also campaigns that have milestone potential because there’s never been a Muslim woman in Congress, said Buzz Feed‘s Hannah Allam in talking with NPR‘s Lulu Garcia-Navarro.

Saad faces a tougher fight in a Republican-leaning district. A poll published last week by the Free Press showed her trailing far behind other Democrats in the running.
Muslims live under a president who once said “Islam hates us,” who stacked his administration with Islamophobes, and whose first month in office yielded the travel ban targeting Muslim-majority countries. Muslims correlate President Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant rhetoric with a spike in hate crimes, including bloody assaults and mosque burnings.
Akram Ali an Arab American, Muslim enclave outside of Detroit said it’s essential for us, especially our youth, to be engaged, to voice their opinions, to not be afraid,” Ali said. “This is about making history.”
He was talking about the Michigan primary Tuesday and the milestone potential it holds for three Muslim Democratic candidates: The country has never had a Muslim governor or a Muslim woman in Congress, and the idea that a “first” could emerge from their own circles has energized Muslims in unprecedented ways.
“It’s so close we can taste it,” said Mehruba Akhtar, 27, on the sidelines of a Detroit forum sponsored by the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative. “Before, in people’s heads, this was just an idea so far out we didn’t even think it was possible.”
Mosques, which as nonprofits can’t endorse specific candidates, urge voting as a civic duty. One Dearborn-based newspaper printed two full pages of sample ballots marked with several Muslim picks beneath a reminder: “It’s legal to take this with you to the polls as a guide.”
Getting involved in politics, Michigan Muslims said, is a way to assert their place in the country and to guard the rights they fear will slip away as the Trump administration floats ideas like a crackdown on Muslim civil society through a ban on the Muslim Brotherhood. All of the Muslim candidates have received bigoted messages about their campaigns on social media; Saad even used some of what she called her “Trump-inspired fan mail” in a campaign ad. The ad showed tweets telling her to “Go Home!” and “No muslims in our government.”
Khulood Faruqui, a 23-year-old engineer, got married last year and moved from California to Michigan, where she is constantly on alert in public places because her headscarf marks her as Muslim. She’d never been interested in politics until Trump was elected and she realized that “being silent and complacent can be deadly.”
We have to come out and be active,” she said. “If you think other people are going to do it for you, it’s not going to happen.”
“The personal responsibility is real,” said Kareem El-Hosseiny, 30, who was at the Detroit rally with two friends, 23-year-old Chehab Kaakarli, in an “Abdul” shirt, and 23-year-old Jousef Shkoukani, in a “Rashida” shirt.
This time could be different, El-Hosseiny said, because “you have candidates like Rashida, like Fayrouz, like Abdul, and they’re finally giving us a voice that we never thought was going to come”.

Rashida Tlaib, the first Muslim woman in the US Congress?

Tlaib is running to be the first Muslim woman in the US Congress, but first she has to beat a crowded field of Democrats.
“It’s not about just being out there and flaunting your faith,” said Tlaib, 41. “I always tell people that I’m exposing Islam in such a pivotal way, an impactful way, through public service.”
People who follow religion and politics put Tlaib in the top tier of Muslim American candidates, saying she has as much chance as anyone to break one of the last religious barriers in Congress.
The eldest daughter of Palestinian immigrants, Tlaib was already the first Muslim woman in Michigan’s Legislature, where she served 2008-2014, before reaching term limits. She’s now an attorney and advocate at the Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice.
Like many Democratic candidates, Tlaib hasn’t been shy about taking aim at President Donald Trump. She calls his election the “bat signal” that provoked many progressive women to run for office.
Several of Tlaib’s Democratic opponents are themselves accomplished women. And while Tlaib doesn’t shy away from talking about her faith, it’s not a big part of her pitch to her voters. Many Michigan Muslims live in Dearborn and Hamtramck, outside of the 13th Congressional District.
“She’s a perfect example of how to systematically build political power,” said Zaki Barzinji, the White House liaison to American Muslims under former President Barack Obama. “She’s not just jumping into a congressional race out of nowhere, she literally spent more than a decade working her way up.”
Tlaib said the anti-Muslim rhetoric coming from some politicians and the media has taken a toll on her family. A mother of two boys, who are 6 and 12, Tlaib tells a story about seeing a political cartoon of a skeleton in a Nazi uniform saying “Allahu Akbar,” the Islamic incantation that means “God is great.”
One of her sons heard Tlaib talking about the cartoon and said, “Mama, don’t worry, if anybody asks if I’m Muslim I will lie and tell them I’m not.”
Tlaib said every time she tells that story to Muslim audiences, a few women approach her afterward and share similar experiences.
“I think there’s a sense that we’ve worked so hard, but our children are struggling,” Tlaib said, her eyes tearing. “It’s very painful. And so people tell me, ‘You gotta win, ’cause if you win, then our kids can see that we belong.'”
“That’s the pressure I feel,” Tlaib said, “and that makes me work harder every day.”

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