Politics and Prejudice: Countering Islamophobia in the 2016 Presidential Race

If the last two elections are any indication, candidates in the 2016 presidential race may be tempted to engage in Muslim-bashing – playing off national security anxieties and fostering racial and religious animus – to win the vote. But anti-Muslim bigotry comes at a high cost to American Muslims, to America’s international stature, and increasingly, to the political careers of those who fuel it.
It was not long ago that American Muslim children watched leaders “accuse” President Obama of being a Muslim, as if there is something inherently wrong with the world’s second largest religion or its 1.5 billion adherents.
Since then, a number of U.S. elected officials continue to contribute to the prevailing climate of intolerance and discrimination confronting American Muslims.

Unsettling U.S. Political Climate Galvanizes Muslims to Vote

These are unsettling times for many American Muslims. “People are losing their sleep,” said Naeem Baig, the president of the Islamic Circle of North America. “The political environment is creating a divide in America” by race, language, gender and religion.
But it has also had an unintended consequence: galvanizing Muslims to vote.

France lawmakers pass bill to strip terrorists of citizenship

French lawmakers gave preliminary approval Wednesday to a bill that would allow terrorists to be stripped of French citizenship, or at least of rights associated with it.

The National Assembly, the French Parliament’s lower house, approved the measure by a 317-199 vote.

The Senate must still approve the bill if it is to become a part of the French Constitution.

But the legislation has already split the ruling Socialist Party badly. Justice Minister Christiane Taubira resigned in opposition to the measure. “I am leaving the government over a major political disagreement,” Taubira said. “I choose to be true to myself.”

President Francois Hollande put forward the proposal in the wake of the November 13 Paris terrorist attacks in the wake of the attack that killed 130 people.

Overall, the legislation is intended to give the president greater powers to declare a state of emergency without, as is now the case, first asking for a vote in the Parliament.

A U.N. convention discourages countries from leaving people without any citizenship. France is a signatory to that convention. The first draft of the measure called for stripping those with a second nationality who committed crimes against the nation to be stripped of their French citizenship. It caused outrage in some quarters, particularly on the left, on the grounds it would penalize those with second citizenships but not most of the French, who have only French passports.

The new measure still calls for stripping those with another nationality of their French citizenship. But it adds that those with French citizenship can be stripped of “the rights attached to it,” implying that those with only one citizenship will face similar punishment to those with two or more. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill March 22.

Any constitutional changes require both chambers of the Parliament to convene in a Congress in Versailles and proceed to a vote that receives a three-fifths majority. The Constitutional Council, France’s highest court, must then review the text before the constitution can be amended.

Are Americans ready for a Muslim president? New poll suggests maybe

A recently released Gallup poll found “tidal shifts” over the past 60 years in Americans’ willingness to support a well-qualified black, female, Catholic or Jewish candidate for president.

But the study also found that 60 percent of Americans would be willing to vote for a president who was a “generally well-qualified person who happened to be Muslim.”

“If the 60 percent is to be used as a proxy of acceptance of Muslims, I am encouraged by an upward trajectory,” wrote Saud Anwar, the mayor of South Windsor, Conn., and that state’s first Muslim mayor.

 

Sarkozy speaks about Islam, integration and Rachida Dati’s roots

2370775838_d0ec7e746eSeveral days before the vote for the UMP presidency, Nicolas Sarkozy mentioned “one of his favorite themes,” that is, “integration the French way.” According to Sarkozy, it is the “biggest failure in thirty years.” He quickly elaborated on this statement, saying, “It is not a question of our fellow Muslims, most of whom bring honor to France.” He added, “The question, is not only to ask what the Republic can do for Islam, but what Islam can do for France.”

The next day, after being questioned by activists about his views on diversity, he discussed Rachida Dati’s appointment as Minister of Justice. “I said to myself that Rachida Dati, with an Algerian father and Moroccan mother, to talk about penal policy, that made sense,” he added.

While several were quick to question his decision, many believe it he chose Dati because of the large North African population in prison. Sarkozy’s entourage defended his decision and said that Dati’s appointment sent an important signal to immigrants.

“When you always speak of origins and skin color in a certain way, you divide citizens into different categories, and it’s not my vision of things,” says Francois Bayrou concerning Sarkozy’s statement.

CAIR Releases Results of Muslim Voter Survey in 6 States

intent-to-vote(WASHINGTON, D.C., 10/23/14) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today released the results of a survey indicating that 69 percent of registered Muslim voters will go to the polls on November 4 and that more than half will vote for Democratic Party candidates.

Domestic issues like the economy and health care continue to top the Muslim voters’ list of priority concerns in this election. Growing Islamophobia in American ranked as the third most important issue for Muslim voters.

*CAIR’s poll of more than 1500 registered Muslim voters in California, New York, Illinois, Florida, Texas, and Virginia* was conducted using an independent automated call survey provider and asked three questions:

1. “Do you plan to vote in the November 4th midterm election?”
2. “Which political party do you support in the upcoming election?”
3. “What is the most important issue to you in this upcoming election?”

The Muslim vote

February 26, 2014

 

The polling firm OpinionWay conducted a poll for the French newspaper Le Figaro and surveyed 10,000 French voters.

According to its findings 93% of French Muslims voted for François Hollande while only 7% voted for the incumbent, Nicolas Sarkozy. An estimated 2 million Muslims participated in the 2012 election and approximately 1.7 million Muslims voted for Hollande rather than Sarkozy. Hollande defeated Sarkozy by 1.1 million votes, which suggests that Muslims provided critical votes that led to Hollande’s victory. However, it should be noted that voting abstention among the Muslim population is greater than within the average population.

The Muslim vote is believed to be a social vote rather than a religious vote and is very traditional concerning social matters such as family. During Hollande’s 2012 presidential campaign he offered amnesty to 400,000 undocumented immigrants from North African countries, many of who are Muslim. Hollande additionally vowed to extend municipal voting rights to residents without French citizenship by the year 2014. These promises prompted Muslims to support the Socialist party because it favors their integration.

Source: http://opinionlab.opinion-way.com/dokumenty/Sondage_jour_de_vote_T2_SOCIOLOGIE_DU_VOTE_2_1.pdf

 

IFOP (Département Opinion et Stratégies d’Enterprise) tracked the evolution of the Muslim vote using data from surveys collected during the 2002, 2007 and 2012 elections to accumulate a sample of 14, 200 voters.

In the first round of the 2012 elections 57% of Muslims voted for Hollande while 7% voted for Sarkozy. According to IFOP in the second round of voting 86% of the Muslim vote went to Hollande while 14% went to Sarkozy.

There is a similar pattern in the 2007 election, which shows that Muslims overwhelmingly supported Royal with 58%, Bayrou with 15% and the Far-left with 10% of the total possible votes.

The 2002 elections display the same trend with 49% voting for the Socialist Party and 19% for the Far-left.

Source: http://www.ifop.fr/media/pressdocument/482-1-document_file.pdf

 

A comprehensive survey entitled “Français comme les autres” published in 2008 polled French of North African and African descent.

Among those who identified as Muslim, 64% declared they voted for the Left in the 2005 election. However after posing the same question to those who identified as nonreligious the results were roughly identical, with 67% voting for the Left. The publication suggests that ethnic origin, the migration process and discrimination within France have created a cultural identity among the population which was the primary factor that influenced the vote.

Source: http://www.fasopo.org/reasopo/n7/societespolitiquescomparees7_livre.pdf

Three Lessons from Switzerland’s Immigration Referendum

February 24, 2014

 

BERLIN—On February 9, a small majority of Swiss voters approved a proposal by the right-wing populist Swiss People’s Party (SVP) to significantly limit migration inflows from other European countries. The Swiss vote garnered attention across Europe because it now requires the renegotiation of certain agreements between the European Union and Switzerland — a non-member — which had thus far been ensured by bilateral treaties. The issues at stake are the free movement of goods, capital, services, and, most importantly, people — the EU’s “Four Freedoms.” Based on the referendum, the number of Germans, French, or Polish citizens allowed to migrate to Switzerland will be contingent on a quota system.

http://blog.gmfus.org/2014/02/23/three-lessons-from-switzerlands-immigration-referendum/

In the run-up to the municipal elections, the UMP party seeks to renew the ‘Muslim vote’

February 13, 2014

 

As France’s municipal elections approach, the President of the center-right UMP party Jean-Francois Copé is targeting the constituents disappointed in Francois Hollande’s regime in the hopes of turning them away from the left. Among this category of people, he is particularly attentive to what he considers the ‘Muslim vote.’

‘Our Muslim compatriots would find themselves in phase with the values that I propose: economic liberty, authority of the state and an equality of chances’, Copé affirmed to Le Monde.

Whereas 90% of Muslims had voted for Hollande, the moment seems optimal to seek ties with these voters since a number of them have been destabilized by the government’s social reforms. During the Manif pour Tous (Protest for All) gathering on February 2nd, they were only a few dozen protestors under the banner ‘French Muslims say no to gay marriage’, but Copé noted that many had answered the call to boycott schools in protest against the ‘gender theory’ classes that were going to be introduced. He noted that dozens of Muslim families had participated in the school boycott of January 27th in his city of Meaux in the Seine-et-Marne region.

 

Source: http://www.lemonde.fr/municipales/article/2014/02/13/a-l-approche-des-municipales-l-ump-reve-de-renouer-avec-l-electorat-musulman_4365751_1828682.html?xtmc=islam&xtcr=14

Amsterdam to Encourage Ethnic Minorities to Vote in Local Elections

January 10, 2014

 

Amsterdam’s city council plans to spend 400,000Euros encouraging ethnic minorities to vote in the upcoming local elections. Turnout in local elections is usually 50% and the city council wants to see an increase to 65%. To do this the city is planning a ‘specific approach to target specific groups’, says mayor van der Laan. Some parties oppose the move, and D66 campaign leader Jan Paternotte commented “City council money should be used to reach all Amsterdammers, not just ethnic minority voters.” The campaign has been spearheaded by a member of the Labour party, which has a high level of support among people with Turkish, Moroccan and Surinamese backgrounds.

 

Dutch News: http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2014/01/local_elections_amsterdam_earm.php