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Muslims Surf the Blue Wave

| November 10, 2018

Rashida Tlaib, an attorney, was a Democratic member of the Michigan House of Representatives and ran unopposed for Congress, winning her seat as the second Muslim woman elected to the House of Representatives. (Shutterstock)

Rashida Tlaib, an attorney, was a Democratic member of the Michigan House of Representatives and ran unopposed for Congress, winning her seat as the second Muslim woman elected to the House of Representatives. (Shutterstock)

By Domenica Ghanem

With the Muslim Ban, the promotion of torturer Gina Haspel to CIA director, and increases in hate crimes, it’s been a rough year for us Muslims in the United States.


So hearing the words “Salam Alaikum” as Ilhan Omar took the national stage on Election Night to accept her win as Representative of Minnesota’s 5th District made it feel like I could finally breathe a little bit easier.

The first Somali-American elected to Congress, Omar joined Rashida Tlaib, a daughter of Palestinian refugees, as the first Muslim women to be elected to U.S. Congress.

The election of these women to Congress is a direct repudiation of the domestic and foreign policies of a country that’s been hostile to migrants and refugees from a number of countries, including Somalia, and has funded Israel’s occupation and destruction of Palestine.

But even though Minnesota is home to the largest Somali population in the country, and Tlaib’s state of Michigan has a large population of Arab and Muslim Americans, this “Muslim wave” was about more than faith or ethnicity.

Omar and Tlaib ran on unabashadley progressive platforms, joining other successful progressives like Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez in New York, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia in Illinois, Veronica Escobar in Texas, and Sharice Davids — the first openly lesbian indigenous representative, who flipped a red seat in Kansas.

other-wordsThey’re also joined by more local progressive representatives like 26-year-old Mari Manoogian, who flipped a Michigan state house seat blue, and Sudanese immigrant Mo Seifeldein, who joined the Alexandria, Virginia city council. Both were endorsed by the Emgage PAC, which calls itself the “policy home of American Muslims.”

These candidates ran on health care for all, taking on our corporate welfare system, protecting black lives, and reversing our climate disaster. And many were unafraid to speak out against U.S. foreign policies that cause refugee crises and domestic policies that punish the desperate people feeling them.

The progressive Muslim wave, with the most Muslims running for office since 9/11, thrived even as it faced one of the most Islamophobic elections of our time.

report by Muslim Advocates called Running On Hate outlined how, though anti-Muslim politicians have been lurking on the fringe for decades, “Trump’s presidency emboldened a new wave of anti-Muslim conspiracy theorists to run for office nationwide and at all levels of government.”

Anti-Muslim hate groups falsely attacked Omar and Tlaib as anti-Semites supporting terrorism. Groups supporting Dave Brat, a Republican candidate from Virginia, attacked his opponent for serving as a substitute teacher at a Muslim school, calling it “terror high.” Kansas gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach brought Trump a proposal to question “high-risk immigrants over support for Sharia Law.” Joe Kaufman, the head of anti-Muslim group Americans Against Hate, ran in Florida’s 23rd District.

But what many of those candidates have since learned the hard way is that smearing Muslims is not a successful campaign strategy. They all lost to Democrats, with Brat’s race flipping a Virginia seat blue.

And even some Islamophobes who did make it, like Reps. Steve King and Duncan Hunter, won by smaller margins in part because voters soured on their anti-Muslim, white supremacist rhetoric.

What all of this tells me about the U.S. electorate is that they care about issues like raising the minimum wage, expanding Medicare, and funding for education at the same time that they reject racist Muslim and immigrant-bashing.

And I have a feeling this is just a drop in the bucket of an even bigger progressive, young, woman, Muslim wave to come.

Domenica Ghanem is the media manager at the Institute for Policy Studies. 

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16 Responses for “Muslims Surf the Blue Wave”

  1. Veteran says:

    Another step toward sharia law.

  2. Dave says:

    Yes! This was my energy the day after the election! So much Blue positive came from this election it’s almost overwhelming but Democrats made big change this year

  3. Michael Cocchiola says:

    Flagler Democrats heartedly welcome Muslims as we do people of all ages, genders, shades of color, religions and cultures. All we ask is the shared values of inclusion, respect, compassion and tolerance. Come join the Palm Coast Democratic Club (look us up on Facebook or palmcoastdemocraticclub@gmail.com). Help us show Republicans how to lead and govern.

  4. Charlie says:

    What’s next, Hamas terrorist running for the Senate ?

  5. Richard says:

    Smearing ANYONE with false accusations is WRONG no matter what political affiliation you have, what race you are or what religion you believe in or your skin color. The democrats are just as guilty at smearing people right along the rest of the lowlifes that thrive on smearing anyone that gets in their way.

  6. Agkistrodon says:

    Forgive me if I am not dancing in the streets…….

  7. Nancy N. says:

    Why is it that the same people fearmongering about “Sharia law taking over America” are the same ones actively trying to impose Christian Dominionism on all of us? Hypocrites.

  8. ASF says:

    Both women mentioned in the article are VIRULENTLY and unapologetically Anti-Zionist. One of them went so far as to call Israel “evil” and both have repeatedly and erroneously called Israel “an apartheid state.” They were elected by the same “Pseudo-Progressive” forces who snarl about how Jews and “Zionists” are trying to control the government to their own selfish and/or egocentric ends. If these two women aren’t prime examples of two people who are intentionally doing just that. I don’t know who is. The thing that is going to sink us Democrats in the long run is our own hypocrisy and biases run amok.

  9. Fredrick says:

    That was a blue wave?? You will need to explain that to me…..

    You have ensured Trumps re-election is about all you have done. And why no mention of the other “minority first women” elected…. Oh yeh.. they were Republican and did not fit your narrative.

    And Micheal Cochiola…. your statements also applies to the Republican party. We welcome all migrants. Just get in line and do it legally and there would not be an issue. . Yes it is really that simple. We are a country of laws. Obey them or change them.

  10. Michael Cocchiola says:

    Charlie… better than another Steve King.

  11. Michael Cocchiola says:

    Veteran…so, please tell us how you make the leap from a Muslim American, Ilhan Omar, winning a U.S House seat, to Sharia law. We all must be missing something. Can you help us out here?

  12. Agkistrodon says:

    Sorry Nancy, I a not a Christian, nor Jewish, nor Muslim. And I still will NOT be dancing in the streets.

  13. Paul says:

    Gillum staffer explaining why it’s OK to make promises and not keep them.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=di3WRRHRWlE

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Y9FaXcJsSg

    Now there is a criminal investigation into Broward and Palm Beach Counties.

  14. Sherry says:

    @Paul. . . please cite your credible source for your claim that there is a “criminal investigation” into Broward and Palm Beach counties’ voting process.
    Thanks!

  15. Keep Flagler Beautiful says:

    I just hope these women will remember which country and which people they now represent.

    • Pierre Tristam says:

      As I’m sure you’d feel compelled to ask any Presbyterian, Catholic, Buddhist or Mormon, right? You might want to think about keeping Flagler civilized, because it sure as hell ain’t beautiful with comment like yours.

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