Source: BuzzFeed News
If the unspoken goal behind the Trump administration’s anti-Muslim actions is to intimidate Muslims out of public life, it’s backfiring.
The hostility instead appears to be sharpening Muslims’ political skills, energizing dozens of first-time candidates running for office — from school boards to Congress. At least two new Muslim-focused political action committees have sprung up, and several nonprofit groups are teaching potential candidates how to raise money, give effective speeches, and counter anti-Muslim smears.
There’s no central count of how many Muslims are running for office nationwide, but Muslim political and advocacy groups have tallied dozens of names, describing the surge as unprecedented. In Maryland alone, around 30 Muslims are vying for state and local seats, a huge leap from the three who ran in 2014, according to the Pluralism Project, a political action committee that formed this year to boost Muslim candidates. Only a handful of Muslims hold public office across the country, including two in Congress: Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota and Rep. André Carson of Indiana, both Democrats.
Hamza Khan, director of the Pluralism Project and a Democratic candidate for state delegate in Maryland, said the ugly rhetoric about Islam from President Donald Trump and his associates fueled Muslims’ interest in politics, but it’s not the only factor behind the increase. Demographic shifts in the electorate and among party gatekeepers also helped. And, Khan said, there’s simply a bigger pool of viable Muslim candidates now: US-born or US-raised men and women who’ve graduated from top colleges and emerged as leaders in their careers and communities.
The momentum is exciting to watch, Khan said, but the payoff may be a long time coming.