A recent Gallup poll reveals that 60 per cent of American adults would vote for a well-qualified Muslim in US presidential elections.
The poll indicates a remarkable change in attitudes over the past 60 years in Americans' willingness to support a female, black, Catholic or Jewish candidate for president.
Saud Anwar, the first Muslim mayor of South Windsor, who is also a pulmonary critical care physician at Eastern Connecticut Health Network, says that: “If the 60 percent is to be used as a proxy of acceptance of Muslims, I am encouraged by an upward trajectory”
While Muslims have been serving their communities as they are required by their faith to do with acts such as; raising above 80,000 dollars for black churches burned across the South and serving a thousand homeless in Los Angeles, they also wonder whether Americans are now more willing to accept their service.
Anwar said he believes that “religious labels are less critical” at the local level, where “people have a better opportunity to know a candidate and thus vote based on capacity to do the job and performance.”
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In national elections, he said, “the labels may become more important for people.”
On the other hand, Amaney Jamal, a professor of politics at Princeton University, points out that the poll also indicates how much worse Muslims are doing compared to other religious and racial communities. She believes that Americans haven’t yet accepted the idea that a Muslim person can be loyal to the United States and can make a dedicated president.
“There’s a lot of Islamophobia,” she adds, although a good indication is that more young people are willing to vote for a Muslim president compared to adults which she attributes to the greater level of interactions between religious communities among the youth.
Former Democratic state legislator Rashida Tlaib, who was the first Muslim woman elected to the Michigan Legislature, finds the poll reassuring because it indicates that a large number of Americans do respect people from religious backgrounds and adds that there aren’t enough Muslim people running for office.
Although she says she would never have thought it possible ten years ago, Tlaib says that it is not impossible to conceive a Muslim American President, considering President Obama is biracial and the most high profile officials that are Muslim currently are Andre D. Carson, D-Ind., and Keith Ellison, D-Minn.
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Further, in 2008 when rumors were afloat that President Obama is Muslim, former Secretary of State Colin Powell criticized the reponses that debied the rumors and suggested a better response:
“The really right answer,” said Powell, “is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country?”
The article originally appeared on Religion News