Prominent Muslim lawmakers are returned to the House of Representatives, while some new faces win seats in state legislatures.
The US presidential election continues to wrangle on with no clear winner two days after the polls opened, taking attention away from other significant developments.
US voters were not only choosing who will be in White House in January but also members of the Senate, House of Representatives, and local state assemblies.
Muslim Americans also turned out to cast their ballots in huge numbers, according to the most prominent Muslim civil advocacy in the country, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
The organisation said that around a million US Muslims had voted with an overwhelming 69 percent choosing Democratic candidate and former vice president, Joe Biden, as their pick for president. Another 17 percent voted for incumbent President Donald Trump.
CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said: “The Muslim community’s significant ability to impact the results of numerous races across this country – including the presidential election – was recognized nationally by candidates and the media.”
Biden had reached out to US Muslims during his campaign and promised to challenge increasing anti-Muslim hate crime in the country, as well as protecting their constitutional rights.
While in 2020 Trump has toned down his explicit anti-Muslim rhetoric, which marked his 2016 campaign, many Muslims in America have bitter memories of policies such as the Muslim ban.
Academics have noted an increase in anti-Muslim hate crime whenever Trump tweets about or amplifies anti-Muslim rhetoric.
Recreational marijuana use and the decriminalisation of hard drugs? Here are some other things Americans are voting on pic.twitter.com/iB8qhLoYzq— TRT World (@trtworld) November 4, 2020
Muslims are not just passive participants in the election, but also have representatives within Congress.
On Tuesday night, three Muslim members of the House of Representatives were re-elected to in their constituencies.
They were Ilhan Omar in Minnesota’s fifth congressional district, Rachida Tlaib in Michigan’s thirteenth district, and Andre Carson in Indiana’s seventh district. All three belong to the Democratic party.
Tlaib and Omar are prominent members of the Squad, along with congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley. The group have distinguished themselves among fellow Democrats for their progressive platform and their combative stance towards the policies of President Trump.
Trump has frequently targeted the Squad and other critics of non-white in racially charged attacks.
“Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” he said in one tweet in 2019.
Omar, who wears a headscarf, has said: “The President ran on banning people from the country based solely on their Muslim faith. This man has no right to lecture anyone about respecting people’s faith.”
Elsewhere on the state legislature level, Palestinian American Muslim Iman Jodeh, was elected in Colorado.
On Twitter she wrote: “We did it! I ran to make the #AmericanDream a reality for Everyone. I am a proud #Muslim, #PalestinianAmerican, & #firstgeneration American. And I am proud to be able to represent my communities & the people of #hd41 in the #Colorado state legislature! Now, let's get to work.”
In Oklahoma, Mauree Turner, became the first Muslim lawmaker elected to the state legislature, while Madinah Wilson-Anton, shared the same accolade in Delaware. In Wisconsin, Samba Baldeh, was elected to the state legislature, while in Florida Christopher Benjamin was elected to the state house. All are members of the Democratic party.
According to Pew, there are 3.45 million Muslims across the US, which amounts to just below one percent of the population. Most though are concentrated in states, such as New York, Michigan, Illinois, and California.
As a voter bloc, the community, especially those not of African-American background, tilted towards the Republican party, drawn to it by its conservative values and advocacy of tax cuts. A shift occurred with the September 11th attacks and subsequent measures brought in to target the community by then President George W Bush.
Laws, such as the Patriot Act, made it easier to target members of the community and mosques with surveillance, leading to many members of the community believing that they were unfairly demonised.