Monday, October 29, 2018 8:33:11 PM
Increase of Anti-Islam Campaigning in the US on the Verge of the Midterm Election

Anti-Islam rhetoric has surged in U.S. midterm election campaigns, a new study found.

Ahead of the midterm Election Day, Muslim Advocates, a legal advocacy group in Oakland, California, released their Running on Hate 2018 report noting a sharp increase in anti-Muslim rhetoric from election campaigns in the state and local level. In the report, Muslim Advocates observed and analysed more than 80 candidates that used Islamophobic narratives in their campaigns.

Forty of these candidates are running for seats in Congress and about 23 of them have made it to the general election. Thirteen of these candidates are incumbents.

“We’ve seen anti-Muslim candidates running in every region,” said Scott Simpson, public advocacy director of Muslim Advocates, which commissioned the report.

“We’ve seen them running at every level of office, from the school and planning boards all the way to governor and Congress. We’ve seen it in liberal places and conservative places. It has really taken root and become very widespread,” he added.

The report examined more than 80 campaigns across the US run by candidates who have engaged in anti-Muslim campaign attacks over the last two years. Almost all of the candidates are Republican.

Conspiracy theories targeting Muslims have increasingly entered the political mainstream. The majority of the candidates openly targeting Muslims – 64% – are either elected or appointed officials or boast of a presidential endorsement.

“These conspiracy theories have had a constituency within the Republican Party for years,” Simpson said, adding: “Trump is an important part of this, but he didn’t originate it.” Simpson told Al Jazeera.

Many such attacks echo rhetoric used by Trump and other Republican presidential contenders in 2016, as anti-Muslim sentiment reached new heights within the party’s primary electorate.

Trump called for a ban on all Muslims coming to the US and flirted with the idea of a Muslim registry. He also falsely claimed Muslims celebrated in New Jersey following the 9/11 terrorist attacks and openly declared that “Islam hates us”, The Guardian mentioned.

But with only 11 to 14 percent of the candidates listed in the report forecast to win, Simpson argued that targeting Muslims has proven to be an ineffective electoral strategy.

“The vast majority of them are losing or are projected to lose in November,” he said. “What we saw in this report, and what we see every day, is counter to the conventional wisdom about this: The assumption that most Americans don’t like Muslims is incorrect.”

In fact, the report found “super-majorities from both parties, of every demographic and region, preferred the candidate who defended Muslims.” This even includes Trump voters, Independent noticed.

The following year hate crimes targeting Muslims spiked by 15 percent, according to a Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) report.

Yet as anti-Muslim rhetoric balloons and hate crimes grow, a record number of Muslim Americans have entered political races across the US.

Prompted to run, in part, by Trump’s anti-Muslim policies and comments, around 90 Muslims ran for office on the local, state and national levels in 2018, according to a Jetpac report published earlier this year.

Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar – who are both projected to be the country’s first Muslim congresswomen – were smeared with false accusations of being “jihadis,” “anti-semitic” or working for “terrorist groups.” Deedra Abboud, an attorney who ran for the US Senate seat in Arizona, was subjected to an onslaught of ant-Muslim cyber-harassment. In addition to the racist vitriol online, right-wing militia groups staged armed protests outside of Abboud’s campaign stops.

The US mid-term elections occur every four years, half-way through a president’s term, when all seats in the House of Representatives, a third of the Senate and other key posts are up for grabs.


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