New report shows record number of Arab, Muslim American candidates ran for office in 2020

New report shows record number of Arab, Muslim American candidates ran for office in 2020
A report found a record number of Muslim candidates have run for 2020 political office in the US.
3 min read
17 March, 2021
Voters in Lansing, Michigan fill out their ballots for the 2020 presidential election [Getty]
A record number of Muslim candidates ran for political office in the US - with a high rate of success - in 2020, a new report released this week has revealed.

There were 181 Muslim candidates running for office in 28 states and Washington DC in 2020, according to the Muslim advocacy groups the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Jetpac, and MPower. The report also identified 16 notable American Muslim hires and appointees to the Biden-Harris administration. 

"Since 2016 we've been seeing the rise in Muslims running and getting engaged in different ways – behind the scenes, running different organisations, and lobbying elected officials," Jetpac executive director Mohammed Missouri told The New Arab.

"We're letting people know there are people all over the country running for office, and they're succeeding.

"Representation in politics and voter turnout go hand in hand."

The report noted that 44 percent of American-Muslims who ran a campaign in 2020 won their elections at local, state and federal levels.

It also noted that although Muslims are running for office across the country, some states stood out.

In New Jersey 33 ran, in Minnesota 27, in California 23, in Michigan 20, while in Massachusetts there were nine.

Overall, 80 Muslim candidates were successfully elected to office in 2020. In comparison, 49 Muslim candidates were elected to public office in 2019, and 57 in 2018 - the previous high mark on record.
"No democracy is true unless it represents the people it serves. The more diversity we have, the more solid and representative our democracy is. It's important to see that reflected," Hussam Ayloush, executive director of CAIR-California, told The New Arab.

"Especially for the immigrant community, a lot of these people who ran and won might not have been able to enjoy and exercise democracy in the country where they or their parents are from," said Ayloush.

"The younger people coming in are doing what seemed impossible for their parents."

Though the report does not go into details on candidates' ideology, gender, or other defining factors beyond identifying as Muslim, it is generally known that this new generation of Muslim politicians tend to be progressive and are well represented by women.

Two of six members of the progressive "The Squad" are Muslim women - Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar.

"American Muslims have really realised, especially after the last four years, that the rise of Islamophobia is not going to end simply by others looking out for us. We need people to run to change policy," says Missouri.

"The community gets it. We're organizing at a level I've never seen before. We're not stopping anytime soon."

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