Saturday, November 28, 2015

Muslims in the GOP

Is this the face of a conservative Muslim politician? Turns out, it is. Cemile Giousouf was elected to German's Bundestag (federal parliament) in 2013, the chamber's first Muslim representative of the conservative Christian Democratic Union party. As the Financial Times pointed out at the time, she is an example of a small but growing number of European Muslims who are abandoning the continent's secular left-wing parties because they feel more at home with Christian conservatives. In Britain, Sayeeda Warsi grew up in a Pakistani-British family and was appointed Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party in 2005. Two years later she was created Baroness Warsi and became the youngest member of the House of Lords.

Here in the US, the story is a bit different. It's not that there's a shortage of pro-life, pro-marriage, faith-infused, free trade, limited government, robust national security-minded Muslims out there. The Republican Muslim Coalition and its president, Saba Ahmed, for example, embody just such values. No, the problem is that the likes of Donald Trump and the populist wing of the party seem to be doing their best to alienate such potential voters, as the FT reports. In 2000, George W. Bush won 42% of the American Muslim vote, a hefty piece of a growing pie (and probably one of the Republicans' strongest showings among any minority group). By 2008, 89% of Muslims were voting Democrat.

Back home in Arizona, I frequently voted for Mormons, not because I share all their theological beliefs, but because I found that I shared political and social values with many Mormon candidates. I'd be happy to vote alongside Muslims and for Muslim candidates as well, if only the GOP doesn't drive them all away.

Photo credit: Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger.

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