Does the American Muslim vote count in 2012?

The Muslim American vote can make a difference! We might be few in mumber but we matter.

Manal Shakir February 05, 2012
During President Obama’s State of the Union Address, he was hopeful and positive; his speech, like most of his speeches, ignited a fire amongst those watching. One felt a sense of pride and hope as he spoke about the state of the country and his future plans. And while he addressed all areas he could, he may have missed out on a group.

President Obama mentioned the Hispanic/Latino population in the country and the African American population; he also extended strengthened support to the United State’s biggest ally in the Middle East, Israel.

And while I understand that the president cannot possibly mention all issues in just an hour, (more like an hour and four minutes) he did not mention anything about the Muslim vote in America.

Now, I know the Muslim vote only counts for a small percentage of votes, but my question is this: is the Muslim American vote of any importance in the 2012 election year?

It’s no surprise that a decade after 9/11, Muslims in America face more or less the same hate crimes and bigoted comments from the average American. There have been many incidents that even encourage bigotry and discrimination towards Muslims in America, the latest being the NYPD police commissioner showing over 100 times a video called the “Third Jihad” to the anti-terror force. Is that not going to create any animosity towards Muslim Americans?

When Lowe’s pulled its advertising from the TLC show All American Muslim, there was a huge uproar from the Muslim community. Even politicians got involved, such as Chris Murphy, a Democratic representative from Connecticut. He too pointed out the stark bigotry Muslim Americans face in the United States and how it is unnecessary and un-American.


Other than that, Newt Gingrich has repeatedly and vehemently claimed that the biggest threat to the national security of the United States is the rise of radical Islam. In one way I agree with him; radical Islam can hurt any country, just like any radical interpretation of any religion or ideology.

Such as the radical interpretation Newt takes on why African American’s like living on food stamps. He thinks they haven’t been “taught” how to get a job, and if elected, he will take time out of his busy schedule of building a base on the moon, teaching them how to get a job.

Now, there are a little less than two million Muslims in the United States today. Muslims are about 0.6% of the American population according to the CIA World Factbook. In 2010, there were over two million Muslims in the country, amounting to 0.8% of the population, but that number has dropped.

So, is 0.6% of a demographic going to make it or break it for President Obama? Or will we be under the radar when it comes to getting the American public’s votes?

I know election time can be tricky. You need to reach out to the larger groups in the mix to get people to vote for you. Muslim American’s may not be as large a group as any other, but they are a group that should be encouraged.

Like any other minority in this country, 1.6 million people feel that they count and that their needs are as important as their fellow citizens'. It is hard to ignore a group of 1.6 million but it does happen more often than not. And it’s not only the Muslims who suffer. Look at how the gay community has had to struggle in this country - which is a shock, because the United States gives everybody a fair playing field.

America, through its constitution and policies, has allowed for people to come together and to voice their opinions, religions, and expressions regardless of whatever they may be. Truthfully, there are only a few countries that provide such an open platform. Therefore, minority groups have the opportunity to take advantage of the accessibility of the system they have in this country, and many already have .

It’s actually an amazing system. But through racism, discrimination, bigotry, xenophobia and misunderstanding, people can feel quite cornered and discriminated against. And so, through political encouragement, community understanding and societal changes, we as a people, including citizen and politicians, can change that.

Through mutual respect, the Muslim American vote can actually make a difference and can be counted as a vote that matters - all 0.6% of it.

This blog was originally published here.  Read more by Manal here.



Manal Shakir A freelance journalist in Chicago, IL who tweets @ManalShakir1
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Saad Raees | 12 years ago | Reply @SoundofFury: Most Muslims would actually support any candidate who would deal with the issues properly, like any other other group, but why would any Muslim (or anyone from any group for that matter) vote for someone who bashes their affiliation! The Republican Party and most of its candidates have been bashing Muslims publicly, many of them doubt most Muslim Americans are at all patriotic to America and they generalize the entire Muslim American population as radicals! Tea Party conducts seminars on regular basis calling for Islam to be wiped out from America since "it poses danger to America's national security" The NYPD shows the officers a documentary which shows that Muslims in America are on a 'secret mission' to make America a Muslim state and no I dont oppose their sureveillance on Muslims, because its in a broader national interest! The Republican Council-woman Deborah Pauly of Villa Park, CA addresses to a rally, along with other Republican congressmen outside a Muslim fundraising convention and says that whatever they are doing inside is 'evil' while the attendees of the rally bully little children attending the convention! Yes I understand most Americans were against the mosque at ground zero and i respect that feeling, although it was to be a worship place for Muslim, Christians and Jews and was protrayed as a place to "recruit terrorists" and a symbol of "Islamic conquest of America" by oppurtunist Republicans (before that nobody even cared if a mosque was to be built there) but why were we seeing so many Republicans opposing so many other sites where mosques were being built? Newt Gingrich says that he would never appoint a Muslim in his cabinet! Herman Cain says he believes most American Muslims are radicals! So many of the Republican politicians keep calling Islam as a poltical ideology rather than a religion! You know what? We really do not want to be "unintegrated" as you say, but how could you expect us to vote for people who are so much against us? And we are not the only group that votes on such issues, majority of African-Americans, Latinos and gays also vote based on their affiliation! I dont mind voting for a Repulican at all, but they dont even like me being in America! But I agree with people that most of the blame lies mostly on the Muslims because we need to integrate more! Politicians are just oppurtunists who will do anything that will get them votes! And make no mistake that I'm as a patriotic American as any non-Muslim American! God bless America!
SoundofFury | 12 years ago | Reply Interesting that Muslim Americans supported the Republicans in the 1990s (nearly 80% voted for Bush). Switched to the Democrats after 9-11, and now support a radical libertarian (Paul) who wants to legalize drugs and prostitution. Of course I seriously doubt most Muslim Americans would support Paul on most of his positions, but the near tribal reaction and narrow scope of interests basically shows just how unintegrated this community is. Religion does not completely define a person, but for many Muslim Americans that is the only identity that matters.
Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ