(May 6, 2017-Minneapolis) A spirit of hope filled the air as the American Muslim Democratic Caucus (AMDC) held its national launch event on May 6 in Minneapolis, Minnesota in the midst of an exponential rise of anti-Muslim hate crimes. With the current political climate wrought with multiple executive orders seeking to limit civil rights, the American Muslim Democratic Caucus committed to collaborating as a unified political voice to address critical issues affecting the community. The long-awaited caucus is dedicated to working together nationally on issues important for American Muslims and pooling resources in order to elect candidates who uphold the American values so important to the Muslim community.
The inaugural launch was held in Minneapolis to honor the state’s history of electing Muslim officials. Rep. Keith Ellison was the first Muslim elected to congress and has been serving Minnesota’s 5th district in that capacity since 2007. More recently in 2016, Minnesota elected Rep. Ilhan Omar, the first Somali-American Muslim legislator, to the Minnesota House of Representatives.
The AMDC speaker lineup included DFL Chair Ken Martin, recent candidate for Minnesota’s second congressional district Angie Craig, a letter of support from Senator Amy Klobuchar and a congratulatory video message from AMDC advisory board member Congressman Ellison who stated, “…what a great moment for the Democratic Party, for our whole country. We in the Democratic Party celebrate diversity and inclusion… For a group of Americans to identify themselves with their faith and their party, to come together to make sure that their voice is heard, I think is a great thing.” The board of directors for the American Muslim Democratic Caucus, composed of a carefully selected group of diverse Muslims from all over the nation, spoke during the event calling out the need for central oversight and community support. “Diversity is our strength”, said Ghazala Salam, AMDC President.
Imam Asad Zaman, Chair of the MN DFL Muslim Caucus announced his caucus’s support and cooperation to the national American Muslim Democratic Caucus. In addition, Imam Zaman gave a dynamic account about the first Muslims who entered the city of Madina as a minority 1400 hundred years ago. One of their first actions was to build a drainage system to remove standing water to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds that were making residents ill. These Muslims didn’t “drain the swamp” for the benefit of Muslims, but they did it for the sake of the whole city. The Muslim minority did something that benefited the whole society in the same way that AMDC is urging today’s American Muslims to work for the benefit of the entire American society.
Keynote speaker Wajahat Ali, a fresh Muslim voice on CNN, Huffington Post, and other media outlets, called the American Muslim Democratic Caucus the “Justice League” of the Muslim community. He shared his personal story detailing his outsider perspective from a very young age, recalling how his accent, his food, even his childhood “husky” jeans called out the contrasting reality from his peers. For him, the aftermath of 9/11 became an opportunity for social activism where the college-age Wajahat engaged community ills head on. His authentic and unique voice seems to have been born from all of his life experiences and his advice for Muslims engaging in political work echoed that of the previous speaker, reiterating that Muslims must stand for the rights of all.
By the end of the night, it was clear that the American Muslim Democratic Caucus aims to use its national voice to represent Muslim values on the topics of the environment, minority rights, healthcare, and education – topics close to the heart of every American. The AMDC invited all to join them in working toward building a collective Muslim voice for the betterment of America as a whole.