A Republican Muslim Urges Voters to Consider Joining His Once Expected Alliance
Muslims in America, by and large, lean left and vote Democrat. But this was not always the case. In 2000, approximately 75 percent of American Muslims voted for President George W. Bush. Unlike Democratic candidate Al Gore, Bush spoke out against racial profiling, specifically of Arab Americans. "Arab Americans are secretly profiled in what’s called secret evidence. People are stopped. We have to do something about that. Racial profiling isn’t just an issue with local police forces. It’s an issue throughout our society," Bush told Gore in the second Gore-Bush Presidential Debate. Coming off the heels of Ted Cruz's Muslim neighborhood surveillance proposal it appears deeply ironic that not so long ago, a Republican presidential candidate held views that could not be more opposing to the party's associations today.
After 9/11, Muslims experienced a great shift in how they were percieved around the world, by the government, media and their fellow Americans. The "war on terrorism" appeared like a war on Islam and the distrust between Muslim Americans and the Republican party was felt mutually. In 2004, only 1 percent of American Muslims voted for President Bush, making the shift in party affiliation nearly unanimous.
Since 2004, the Republicans’ increased discrimination against Muslim Americans has solidified their support of the Democratic Party, which they were welcomed them with open arms. But a few Muslims like Shareeque Sadiq, a student at Ohio Wesleyan University, are bucking the trend. “I understand the stigma and the tension that exists. But sometimes you have to go from your comfort zone to that unknown area," Sadiq said when asked why he believes young Muslims should vote Republican. "You will face challenges but at the end of the day it’s worth fighting for because it’s going to make you a better person. It’s going to expose you to new ideas. It’s going to help you to grow and most importantly, it’s going to show people that Islam is not just terrorism and all these other shenanigans. It’s a religion of peace," Sadiq explained, words that George Bush once famously told a crowd gathered at the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C. the week following the September 11 attacks.
However, given Republican front-runner Donald Trump’s propsals for registering Muslims and requiring them to wear badges, banning Muslims from entering the country and saying that “Islam hates us" Muslims are not likely to switch back to the GOP. The city of Dearborn, with a population of about 40% Arab American residents, played a key role in Bernie Sanders' Michigan win. Dearborn is part of the Detroit metropolitan area, which has the greatest population of Muslims of any city in the United States. Washington D.C., Philadelphia and New York all have large populations of Muslims as well which should make the upcoming primaries interesting, if not the general election.