In an election season where not even our next president is certain, one thing is for sure--Muslim Americans participated in unprecedented numbers.
From the outset of the presidential race, Muslims made their voices heard. From mayor's offices to city councils to national party conventions, nearly 700 Muslims ran for offices nationwide. In Texas alone, 100 Muslims were elected as delegates to both the Democratic and National conventions, and both parties began their conventions with Muslim prayers.
Organizations such as the Council on American Islamic Relations held major voter registration drives and compiled information from the candidates nationwide on how they felt about issues on everything from prayer in schools, to abortion, to the issue of self-determination for the Palestinians.
Imams and Khateebs in mosques all over the country encouraged Muslims to head to the polls this year to advance their interests both here and abroad, and candidate nights were held by Muslim grassroots organizations in states such as California, Ohio, and Michigan.
Muslims worked hard to campaign for candidates they supported, but not all of them won. Rep. Tom Campbell, who has been a staunch supporter for Muslim causes both here and abroad, lost his bid for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Diane Feinstein. Campbell, an exemplary politician, has been critical of Hollywood movies that depicted Muslims and Arabs as terrorists and has even been known to send letters to actors, urging them to make conscious decisions when presented with scripts for anti-Muslim films.
And Michigan Senator Spencer Abraham, who also worked to see an end to the use of secret evidence, may lose his seat by a narrow margin. At the time this article was written, ballots in that state were still being counted.
But Muslims were clearly victorious in races where Muslim-bashing had occurred. Candidates who used anti-Muslim sentiments to advance their campaign lost their bid for office. In almost the worst case of hate-mongering this elections season, New York senatorial candidate Rick Lazio accused Hillary Clinton of accepting "blood money" from mainstream Muslim organizations, and attempted to marginalize them by calling them supporters of "terrorism". Lazio not only faced defeat at the polls, but also faced a litany of angry phone calls, letters and protests from Muslims in New York and elsewhere.
And in Georgia, congressional candidate Sunny Warren used similar tactics against Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) in campaign fliers. Along with allegations that McKinney was tied to those who attacked the USS Cole, Warren's fundraising letter accused McKinney of being the best friend of Saddam Hussein. Warren also accused McKinney of supporting the "Arab Muslim Council", an organization that doesn't even exist. Warren faced a humiliating defeat at the polls on Tuesday.
Clearly, neither of these two candidates' use of anti-Muslim rhetoric helped them in their bid for Congress. And as more and more Muslims become vocal and active in the American political process, such anti-Muslim sentiment will not only dissipate, but Muslim causes will advance. And regardless of whether our candidates succeed, by participating and having a voice in our government's affairs, Muslims win.
Hebah Abdalla is editor of iviews.com.