Muslim Organizations Warn 2016 Candidates: Spew ‘Islamophobia’ at Your Political Peril
By  Patrick Goodenough

Washington, DC: Leaders of several American Muslim organizations warned Donald Trump and other presidential candidates Monday that if they engage in bigotry and “Islamophobia” they will pay a political price because Muslim voters – in the words of one – will mobilize and “make sure you are out of there.”

“Let it be heard, and clear, to all political candidates, be it Donald Trump or whoever else, that indeed, if you engage in Islamophobia, if you engage in demagoguery and bigotry, you will pay a political price,” American Muslim Alliance director Mahdi Bray said at the National Press Club.

“Because we’re going to register our people and we’re going to use our ballot and we’re going to ‘take our souls to the polls’ and make sure you are out of there,” he continued.

Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) national executive director, Nihad Awad, standing alongside Bray, quickly clarified that the organizations on the platform – members of the US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO) – were not endorsing any candidate.

“There will be another organization that might be formed from the community that will make that decision, but we are – most of us are 501(c)(3) organizations,” Awad said.

“So – but yes, we’re going to be engaged, and as we say, ‘in November we will remember,’” Awad added.

“We’re non-profit,” quipped Bray, “but not non-principled.”

Bray and Awad were participating in a USCMO press conference announcing initiatives “to address growing Islamophobia in America.”

Another participant, Islamic Society of North America vice-president Altaf Husain, urged political candidates at all levels to take time to engage with American Muslims.

“If you as a political candidate choose to spew hatred, bigotry, and to vilify Muslim Americans, you do so at your own political risk,” he warned.

“We will use every democratic – small d – democratic means and political strategies to ensure that you – your candidacy never succeeds.”

Awad of CAIR said the media should not give undeserved attention to “politicians who are trying to scapegoat the American Muslim community.”

In response to a question, he said he agreed with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s charge that  Trump has become a recruiting tool  for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

“I happen to agree with her, because I said similar stuff – that Donald Trump’s statements are helping ISIS, because he’s playing into their hands, he’s not fighting ISIS, he’s helping ISIS,” Awad said.

“ISIS leaders know that they cannot destroy the United States, they cannot defeat the United States. But what they hope to do is to divide Americans and to scare us,” he said. “So my message to all candidates, not only Donald Trump and his likes but all candidates: Stop being afraid. America is strong.” -

According to another report the alliance of Muslim groups is launching a national bus tour and voter registration drive to respond to what it calls an alarming rise in anti-Muslim attacks that it says is driven by Islamophobia in 2016 presidential campaign rhetoric.

The voter registration drive, which seeks to sign up a million new voters over the next year, isn’t limited to Muslims. Robert McCaw, government affairs director at CAIR, said the effort seeks to bring in Americans of all creeds and political persuasions. 

McCaw said that he hopes these voters cast ballots while conscious of the stances of 2016 candidates, but that the effort doesn't endorse one party or platform. The get-out-the-vote effort will simply inform citizens of candidates' positions, he said. 

“We’re not looking to register 1 million more Muslims. We’re looking to work with interfaith partners to register 1 million more Americans,” McCaw said. “This is going to be more of an interfaith and community project. When you look at the toxic political climate in the United States, minority community members take the brunt of many political attacks now more than ever. We have to join together so we’re heard. The best way is to go to the polls.”


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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