Record number of Muslim Americans elected in 2022 midterm elections

This year’s midterm elections prompted a large number of politicians making history in office, from the first Gen Z member of Congress to the first black governor of Maryland. It also proved historic for Muslim Americans, with a record number of members of the community elected to their respective seats.

Republican Mehmet Oz would have been the nation’s first Muslim senator if he had won his Pennsylvania seat. But even with his defeat, 82 Muslim candidates won local, state, federal and judicial seats in 25 states, according to a report by the Jetpac Resource Center and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

Many of those victories came in red states, including Texas, Virginia and Georgia, and included 20 incumbents and 17 new candidates. Those seats range from local boards of education and city councils to the U.S. House of Representatives, where Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-MN, and Rashida Tlaib, D-MI, retained their seats.

This marks the highest number of electoral victories among Muslim Americans since CAIR began tracking 2020, the organization said. That year, 71 Muslim Americans were elected.

CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said the “historic streak” of victories “is a testament to our community’s continued rise in American politics and the trust our neighbors have in us to represent them and fight for their their interests”.

“We are witnessing the next step in the political transformation of the American Muslim community from marginalized voices who were marginalized, or worse, to decision makers,” Awad said. “These newly elected officials build on the success of our community’s decades-long investment in civic engagement, voter registration and running for office.”

The record-breaking numbers also brought some historic firsts. Maine, Illinois, Ohio and Texas elected their first Muslim legislators. Georgia now has the second largest number of Muslim state legislators in the country with the election of the first Muslim women to the state senate and house.

What makes the victories more significant is the rampant hatred and discrimination the Muslim community still faces. The Muslim Community Network found that in New York City, more than 26% of black Muslims and 32% of Asian Muslims experienced or witnessed a hate crime in first half of 2022. It is an issue that many have experienced before they are even teenagers.

“Sometimes it’s kind of hard. A lot of people like to call names and make you feel ashamed for being ashamed of who you are,” Jenna, 17, told CBS Reports for a documentary that debuted earlier this year. “…They called me names: ‘towel-head’, ‘terrorist’. At school I have certainly faced many issues.”

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But for her, this distinction is not going to stop her from being proud of who she is.

“The moment your pride is taken away, your everything, your being is gone,” he said.

For Jetpac Resource Center executive director Mohammed Missouri, the wins are an inspiration.

“It shows that the Muslim community is building solid infrastructure for sustainable electoral success,” he said. “Policy decisions on education, housing, climate and civil rights are shaped by state legislatures, and it is critical that our voices are represented in the policymaking process.”

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