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Biden urges Muslim Americans to help him defeat Trump, adds to endorsements

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) has endorsed presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) has endorsed presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
(Associated Press)

Joe Biden urged Muslim Americans on Monday to join him in the fight to defeat President Trump as he addressed an online summit hosted by the advocacy organization Emgage Action to mobilize Muslim voters ahead of the presidential election.

“I want to earn your vote not just because he’s not worthy of being president,” the presumptive Democratic nominee told participants. “I want to work in partnership with you, make sure your voices are included in the decision-making process as we work to rebuild our nation.”

Biden also reiterated a pledge to overturn a Trump administration ban on travelers from several predominantly Muslim countries, calling it “vile.”

Wa’el Alzayat, chief executive of Emgage Action, said by email that the organization was seeking to maximize Muslim American turnout in key battleground states. In Michigan alone — where Trump won in 2016 by fewer than 11,000 votes — Alzayat said he believed there are more than 150,000 registered Muslim voters.

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Several prominent Muslim American elected officials endorsed Biden in a letter organized by Emgage Action ahead of the summit.

Among those signing the letter are Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, Minnesota Atty. Gen. Keith Ellison and Indiana Rep. Andre Carson, all Democrats. Omar, one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress, served as a high-profile surrogate for Sen. Bernie Sanders before he exited the presidential race in April — making her support for Biden potentially helpful as the former vice president seeks to mobilize Muslim voters this fall.

“Muslim American voices matter to our communities, to our country,” Biden said. “But we all know that your voice hasn’t always gotten recognized or represented.”

Emgage Action called the event “Million Muslim Votes,” underscoring its emphasis on boosting Muslim turnout in November.

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“Joe Biden’s presence serves not only to galvanize Muslim Americans to cast their ballots, but to usher in an era of engaging with Muslim American communities under a Biden administration,” Alzayat said by email before the summit.

The pro-Biden letter from Muslim American elected officials decried a number of Trump’s domestic and international policies, including the travel ban and Trump’s pullout from the Iran nuclear deal.

“A Biden administration will move the nation forward on many of the issues we care about,” the letter said, citing racial justice, affordable healthcare, climate change and immigration.

In his address, Biden pledged to include Muslim American voices in his administration, if elected, and to speak out against human rights abuses against Muslim minorities around the world.

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“I’ll continue to champion the rights of Palestinians and Israelis to have a state of their own as I have for decades, each of them a state of their own,” he said.

Just shy of 2020 voter deadlines, the federal agency that handles citizenship is out of money, and thousands of green card holders can’t become citizens.

Trump’s reelection campaign, meanwhile, has included Muslim voters in its faith outreach.

“President Trump understands that our faith is what unites us as a nation,” Courtney Parella, deputy national press secretary for the reelection campaign, said in a statement. “He has and will continue to staunchly defend religious freedoms for all Americans.”

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Omar’s signature on the endorsement letter expands on her statement last week, via Twitter, that she would vote for Biden. New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — another member of the quartet of congresswomen of color, often known by the nickname “the Squad,” who have become progressive luminaries since their arrival in Congress — also has said she would vote for Biden in the fall.

But Ocasio-Cortez, who served on a task force that helped shape a climate change plan designed to unite Biden and Sanders backers, has yet to issue a full-throated Biden endorsement. Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, another “Squad” member and former backer of Sanders’ presidential bid, was conspicuously absent from the Emgage Action-organized letter.

Farooq Mitha, senior advisor for Muslim engagement with Biden’s campaign, said reaching out to Muslim American voters is a priority for Biden, pointing to his own appointment as an example. The campaign has hosted events with Muslim Americans and met with community leaders, he said.

“A Biden presidency offers Muslims an opportunity to be engaged with government, rather than being shut out like many other groups that have been alienated and demonized by the Trump administration,” he said in response to emailed questions. “Muslim communities can have an outsized impact in many states and we are working every day to earn their support.”

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Brushing aside polls showing his support down amid the worsening coronavirus outbreak, Trump won’t promise to accept the 2020 election result.


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