Conflict & Justice

Voting in Virginia's immigrant Muslim community

(Why is Virginia such an important battleground state?) Virginia has not gone Democrat since 1964 with Lyndon Johnson and it's in play now partly because of the demographics have changed with a lot of Hispanic and Muslim immigrants from southern Asia. They've settled largely in northern Virginia. Many of these voters are going for Obama. (If Virginia is a blue state it'll be rather difficult for McCain to get the electoral votes he needs.) It'll be almost impossible, he'll have to run the board from there. (When you were in Virginia you met Mukit Hossain.) JM: How did the voting go today? (It was a phenomenal day. I started getting calls about voting at 5 Am today even though polls didn't open until 6 AM. I would suspect over 90% of the Muslim voters in Virginia actually voted. We found that on Sunday close to 20% had voted early. But it's a phenomenal voting day for the Muslims in Virginia. (Any sense of how their votes have been going?) The overwhelming majority seems to be for Obama, whom we have actually endorsed. (When we met a few weeks ago, your organization had not endorsed either candidate and then you endorsed him lukewarmly. Why has the Muslim community backed him so strongly?) The Muslim community heavily favored Obama during the primaries, but his handling of the whole Muslim question made a lot of people suspicious and worried. But over the past couple weeks after we endorsed Obama, we have been making a very vigorous attempt to make people understand that the first business at hand is to get this election over with and if we stand behind Obama, we need to do so wholeheartedly. I spoke to over 100 gatherings over the past few weeks and people came out in large numbers. (There was a tough crackdown this past summer on undocumented immigrants in northern Virginia where people with dark skin were being singled out. Do you think that had any effect at the poll today?) I think the issue was more the fact that Obama is a member of an ethnic minority. It's a harbinger of good things to come as far as the Muslim community is concerned.

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