For the first time, Delaware’s Muslim community is publicly endorsing political candidates in hopes of inspiring the next generation of Muslims to get politically involved.
The Delaware Muslim Leadership Forum represents the state’s 10,000 Muslims. It endorsed candidates running for federal, state and local offices ahead of Election Day, on Tuesday. Dr. Naveed Baqir is a founding member. He said this election season has been a wake-up call to the Muslim community in the state, and nationwide.
“[The] Muslim community, in general, did not play an active role in politics before. And we wanted to make sure that this election season everybody understands that Muslim community is here to stay. We are part and parcel of this society. This is our home. We belong here,” Baqir said.
It all started when the Delaware Council on Global and Muslim Affairs backed candidates in August, three weeks before the state’s primary elections. Leaders of the community-based think tank said Donald Trump’s scapegoating of Muslims prompted them to speak out initially.
Like other Americans, Baqir said Muslims in Delaware also worry about the economy, education and public safety. And now that they have made their political presence known, Baqir hopes by stepping out of the shadows that younger Muslims will find their voice as well.
“We want to make sure that our children have an opportunity, when they grow up, they know how they have to make this nation great, how they have to play their role in becoming productive citizens of this nation.” Baqir said. “I certainly hope that some members of our community shall consider running for the political offices, but that’s only one way of serving Delaware. I hope to see more Muslim volunteer firefighters, police officers, government officials and contributors to the policy making bodies at local, state and federal level.”
The group endorsed all Democrats for federal and statewide offices, including Hillary Clinton for president and Congressman John Carney, who’s running for governor. Baqir said candidates were endorsed based on their experience, qualifications and their outreach to the Muslim community. While it endorsed all Dems in races at the top of the ticket, the forum’s picks were more bipartisan among Delaware’s local races.