American Muslims are moving to get out the vote in response to perceived hostility from GOP candidates. The push comes after Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have called for bans on Muslim immigration or surveillance of Muslim communities.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations is one of many groups pushing Muslims to vote at their local mosque leading up to the November election, reports The New York Times. The organization says that Muslim voter registration may rise during Ramadan, when more Muslims attend mosques.
“The fear and apprehension in the American Muslim community has never been at this level. The anti-Islamic tidal wave is spurring civic participation,” said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesperson for CAIR.
The push among Muslims to register to vote comes after significant shifts in the group’s political preferences.
While most Muslims identified as Republican in 2000, they have moved decidedly to the left since. In 2015, Pew Research polled 70 percent of American Muslims as Democrats, and 11 percent Republican.
The momentum among Muslims to register to vote comes after Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump suggested a ban on Muslim entry into the U.S. on Dec. 7, 2015, reports U.S. News.
Trump’s proposed ban triggered a sharp rebuke, particularly from Muslim leaders in the U.S.
“It’s xenophobic and there’s no room for this type of commentary in these types of positions in politics, particularly running for president of the United States,” said Abed Ayoub, director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. “It does have a direct impact on the community. We’ve seen over the past few weeks. The number of hate crimes targeting Arab Muslim communities is on the rise.”
Now, Muslim organizations across the U.S. are trying to hit back at the ballot box.
“The best answer to this anti-Muslim rhetoric is engagement in the political process. It is a matter of survival for the American Muslim community,” said Naeem Baig, head of the Islamic Circle of North America.
While Muslims constitute roughly 1 percent of the U.S. population, Muslim organizations have the target of registering 1 million new voters for the November election.