Dearborn, MI: When Dr. Mahmoud Al-Hadidi casts his ballot in the November election, there is one issue that rises above all others as he makes his choice — respect.
“In this election, honestly, respect and recognition,” the emergency room physician in Michigan told VOA. “The Muslim community would like to be acknowledged as part of this great American nation, and not as an alien culture to this nation.”
Al-Hadidi supported Hillary Clinton for President in 2016 and Gretchen Whitmer as Michigan’s governor in 2018. But this time around, he isn’t sure if he’ll support Joe Biden over President Trump.
One of his concerns is the U.S. government’s “Terrorist Screening Database” which many Muslim Americans feel targets innocent members of their community. A subset of the database is the “no fly” list of individuals barred from boarding commercial flights.
“Definitely that list should be updated,” Al-Hadidi said. “Those who are wrongfully on that list should have their dignity back and should be removed.”
“You’ve got to tell people something to excite them to go out and vote,” said Osama Siblani, publisher of the Arab American News. “Just because Biden is not Trump is not a good reason for me to go out and vote.”
While Muslim Americans make up about 1% of the overall U.S. population, they have an outsized influence in Michigan, a battleground state that President Trump won in 2016 by just over ten thousand votes.
While the state’s 270,000 registered voters of the Muslim faith could impact the outcome of this year’s presidential race, their preferences are just as diverse as their community.
“Some members of our community can believe that Trump is good on the economy, on business,” Siblani said. “But many of us want from Biden to hear some commitment to them to excite them to go out and vote because, frankly, under Obama-Biden, Muslims were discriminated against [as well].”
Siblani adds that many are outraged over Trump’s Muslim ban— a ban Biden has pledged to end. At the same time, he said there is recognition and support for Trump’s efforts to promote peace and reduce U.S. troop levels in the Middle East.
Epidemiologist Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, who ran against Whitmer in the Democratic primary in 2018, differs: “It’s not that people are deciding between Biden and Trump. Often times it’s between Joe Biden and not voting.”
While no poll of Muslim Americans has been issued in the final weeks of the presidential campaign, previous surveys have shown the community backing Democrats more often than Republicans.
Sourced from Voice of America