Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, will address the nation’s largest Muslim American PAC (political action committee) on Monday, amidst an internal tug of war within the party over its political platform for the November elections.
Emgage Action, the political arm of a 14-year-old Muslim outreach organisation, will host Biden at its Million Muslim Votes Summit, in a virtual online event which organisers say will “energise” American Muslims to back the former Vice President.
“The Muslim American community is coming into its own politically and is poised to play a historical role in the upcoming presidential elections,” said Emgage Action on their online booking site for the event. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib are amongst several Democrat lawmakers confirmed to take part in the two day event.
“Muslim American communities are organizing like never before to maximize our voter turnout, and to ensure that our voices are represented,” Wa’el Alzayat, the chief executive of Emgage Action, said in a statement published by the Washington Post. “The Million Muslim Votes Summit is the culmination of this work, and it is with great honor that Vice President Joe Biden is partnering with Emgage Action to engage with Muslim American communities and help galvanize us towards the polls this upcoming November.”
Stressing the event’s significance, Bernie Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir said that Muslims “could be difference makers in battleground states.” There are said to be hundreds of thousands of Muslims eligible to vote in Emgage’s targeted swing states, as well as California, Illinois and Virginia.
Shakir, who is the first Muslim to hold the role of campaign manager for a presidential candidate, explained that in order to win the Muslim vote Biden had to “put in effort” and suggested that President Donald Trump’s right-wing illiberal policies had turned them away.
“Muslims have been demonized and terrorized by Trump, so I can’t imagine too many voting for him,” said Shakir.
Biden’s team stressed the need to work with America’s four million Muslims. “Joe Biden is proud to stand with Emgage during one of the most challenging moments for Muslim Americans in recent history under Donald Trump’s presidency,” said Farooq Mitha, Biden’s senior adviser on Muslim American engagement. “Now is the time for us to come together to fight for our Constitution, civil rights, a just immigration system, and a better future for all of us.”
The Democrats outreach to American Muslim comes as the party is embroiled in a feud over its political platform, especially on issues related to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory. Progressives within the party want to include “occupation” for the first time in reference to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “Condemning the Israeli occupation by name should be the bare minimum for any leader of the Democratic Party,” wrote a coalition of progressive groups including Jewish organisations.
Exposing a deep rift within the party, an equally vocal section is lobbying for the party to express strong support for the state of Israel.