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Muslim leaders in key US swing states launch 'Abandon Biden' campaign for 2024 election

Organisers are mobilising to ensure Biden doesn't get a second term, citing his support for Israel's bombing of Gaza
US President Joe Biden speaks during a reception celebrating Eid al-Fitr in the White House on 1 May 2023 in Washington
US President Joe Biden speaks during a reception celebrating Eid al-Fitr in the White House on 1 May 2023 in Washington DC (AFP)
By Umar A Farooq in Washington

Muslim leaders, organisers and community members from several US states have launched a national campaign against the reelection of President Joe Biden over his stalwart support of Israel's military campaign in Gaza, which many scholars have warned could amount to genocide against Palestinians.

In a press conference on Saturday in Dearborn, Michigan, Muslim organisers from Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Minnesota, Nevada, and Pennsylvania came together to announce a coordinated nationwide effort to ensure Biden does not secure a second term in office. 

“We are not powerless as American Muslims. We are powerful. We don’t only have the money, but we have the actual votes. And we will use that vote to save this nation from itself,” Jaylani Hussein, a member of the coalition, said at the press conference.

Hussein also serves as executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations but is leading the campaign in his personal capacity.

Hassan Abdel Salam, a professor at the University of Minnesota and a member of the Abandon Biden National Coalition, told Middle East Eye that he could not speak for the entire Muslim community with complete certainty, but out of the people the campaign has spoken to, there is near-unanimous support for the idea of campaigning against Biden.

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"I think it's a reflection of the democratic voice of Muslim Americans," he said.

Abdel Salam said that the campaign was initially being run separately in different states, but they now have decided to coordinate their efforts on a national level.

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While it is unclear how much traction the campaign will get, organisers are confident that they can put together a significant bloc of Muslim voters, which could sway the election.

According to the most recent data from the Pew Research Center, the Muslim American population is roughly 3.45 million people. 

Many swing states - states that have had inconsistent voting patterns in previous elections - contain large pockets of both Muslim-American and Arab- American voting blocks.

For example, in the 2020 election, Biden won the state of Michigan by 150,000 votes. There is an estimated 206,050 registered Muslim voters in the state as of 2020. 

"We want to make sure we get Muslims to vote, ensure the voter turnout is high, that we organise and mobilise as well as continue our protests around the 'Abandon Biden' theme," Abdel Salam said.

'Policy of death' cannot be supported

Biden has been facing a mounting political challenge with regular ceasefire demonstrations happening across the country and a growing number of progressive lawmakers joining the call for a ceasefire.

In another sign of this pressure, the United Auto Workers, one of the biggest labour unions in the country which Biden has publicly thrown his support behind, last week also joined the calls for a ceasefire.

Yet for the newly-launched campaign against Biden, not even a ceasefire at this point would make them change their minds about their votes.

"We're now past the point where we can support him even if today he declares a ceasefire," said Abdel Salam.

'Why not also protect the country from Trump by actually having a more balanced policy in Palestine?'

- Hassan Abdel Salam, Abandon Biden campaign

"We are going to remain committed to our word and it's been hard and I'll tell you why. The events that took place - this massive destruction and killing of innocents - this policy of death from the administration can never be supported."

The war in Gaza began on 7 October when Hamas-led Palestinian fighters launched a surprise attack on southern Israel, killing 1,200 Israelis, according to the government death toll. In response, Israel launched an aerial bombardment campaign and ground invasion of Gaza that has killed more than 15,000 Palestinians and displaced more than one million people in Gaza.

Over the past several weeks, as more and more Muslims and Arabs have publicly stated that they will not be voting for Biden in the upcoming 2024 election over his support of Israel's war on Gaza, they are being accused of aiding former President Donald Trump's bid to beat Biden.

The organisers of the Abandon Biden campaign have made it clear they won't support Trump either, but do recognise their efforts could lead to a Trump victory.

In response to the accusations, Abdel Salam said it was "incredibly insulting" and "Islamophobic".

"Why do you treat us so unequally and expect from us something that you don't even want to do for us? Why not also protect the country from Trump by actually having a more balanced policy in Palestine? It's not asking for too much," he said.

Organisers are continuing to have conversations about working towards becoming an independent voting bloc, which they say would be a more effective way to sway the policy positions of both Democrats and Republicans.

"We need to begin to look like independents that can swing either way, so that both parties bid for our approval," Abdel Salam said.

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