The National Journal

Posted by The National Journal on November 12, 2015 in News Clips

By Alexia Fernández Campbell

Muslim-bash­ing has long been a strategy some Re­pub­lic­an pres­id­en­tial can­did­ates have used to ap­peal to their right-wing core. But it’s get­ting harder and harder for politi­cians to get away with that.

In re­cent months, civil-rights ad­voc­ates have con­demned anti-Muslim com­ments by both Re­pub­lic­an front-run­ners, Ben Car­son and Don­ald Trump.

Though the per­cent­age of Muslims liv­ing in the United States is still re­l­at­ively small (about 1 per­cent), their share of the pop­u­la­tion nearly doubled in the past sev­en years, ac­cord­ing to the Pew Re­search Cen­ter. From 2000 to 2010, the num­ber of Muslims liv­ing in the United States in­creased by about 1 mil­lion to 2.6 mil­lion, based on es­tim­ates from the As­so­ci­ation of Re­li­gion Data Archives.

Most of these Muslims are U.S citizens, too, which means they are a voting bloc. Their po­ten­tial in­flu­ence in the 2016 elections was a key top­ic dur­ing a con­fer­ence or­gan­ized this week by the Muslim Pub­lic Af­fairs Coun­cil, a civil-rights and ad­vocacy group based in Wash­ing­ton.

Here are four things Muslim lead­ers said they want policy makers to keep in mind dur­ing the 2016 elec­tions:

1. The num­ber of po­ten­tial Muslims voters is grow­ing in swing states.

Muslim com­munit­ies are grow­ing in swing states in­clud­ing Vir­gin­ia, Pennsylvania, and Flor­ida. So their votes could be cru­cial in choos­ing the next pres­id­ent. For ex­ample, the Muslim pop­u­la­tion in Vir­gin­ia grew from 51,000 in 2000 to 213,000 in 2010, ac­cord­ing to the As­so­ci­ation of Re­li­gion Data Archives. In Flor­ida, the Muslim pop­u­la­tion grew from 32,000 to 165,000 dur­ing the same time peri­od. The vast ma­jor­ity are U.S. cit­izens.

2. Muslim Amer­ic­ans are tired of be­ing as­so­ci­ated with ter­ror­ists.

None of the 9/11 hi­jack­ers were Amer­ic­an Muslims. Though rad­ic­al­iz­a­tion is a grow­ing prob­lem around the world, Amer­ic­an mosques are more likely to dis­suade, not en­cour­age, ex­trem­ist views, says Ab­dul Ma­lik Mu­jahid, chair­man of Sound Vis­ion, which pro­duces edu­ca­tion­al con­tent about Muslims and Is­lam. Yet the Amer­ic­an pub­lic seems to think Muslims are dan­ger­ous. About 42 per­cent of Amer­ic­ans say they ap­prove of law-en­force­ment ef­forts to pro­file Arab Americans and Muslim Americans, according to the latest pub­lic-opinnion poll re­leased by the Ar­ab Amer­ic­an In­sti­tute.

3. Ar­ab Amer­ic­ans are a highly edu­cated eth­nic group.

About a quarter of Ar­ab Amer­ic­ans are Muslim, and very few drop out of high school. In fact, about half of Ar­ab adults have gone on to finish college, compared to 27 percent of the general population, ac­cord­ing to the Ar­ab Amer­ic­an In­sti­tute. Me­di­an in­come for Ar­ab-Amer­ic­an house­holds in 2010 was slightly high­er than the rest of the coun­try: $56,433 com­pared to $51,914 for all house­holds in the United States.

4. The White House li­ais­on to the Ar­ab-Muslim com­munity should be Ar­ab or Muslim.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has placed non-Ar­abs and non-Muslims in charge of out­reach to the Ar­ab-Muslim com­munity, ac­cord­ing to Randa Fahmy, founder of Fahmy Hudome In­ter­na­tion­al, a gov­ern­ment-re­la­tions and stra­tegic-con­sult­ing firm in Washington, D.C.

“Would they ever think of staff­ing any­one oth­er than a His­pan­ic to out­reach to the His­pan­ic pop­u­la­tion? Of course not,” she says.

Cur­rently, the White House doesn’t have a des­ig­nated Ar­ab-Muslim li­ais­on lis­ted among the staff on the webpage for the Of­fice of Pub­lic En­gage­ment.

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