NATIONAL NEWS

Group of swing state Muslims vows to ditch Biden in 2024 over his war stance

Dec 2, 2023, 11:45 AM | Updated: 12:16 pm

CHICAGO (AP) — Muslim community leaders from several swing states pledged to withdraw support for U.S. President Joe Biden on Saturday at a conference in suburban Detroit, citing his refusal to call for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Democrats in Michigan have warned the White House that Biden’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war could cost him enough support within the Arab American community to sway the outcome of the 2024 presidential election.

Leaders from Michigan, Minnesota, Arizona, Wisconsin, Florida, Georgia, Nevada and Pennsylvania gathered behind a lectern that read “Abandon Biden, ceasefire now” in Dearborn, Michigan, the city with the largest concentration of Arab Americans in the United States.

More than 13,300 Palestinians — roughly two-thirds of them women and minors, according to the Health Ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza — have been killed in the Israel-Hamas war. Some 1,200 Israelis have been killed, mostly during Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel that triggered the war.

Biden’s unwillingness to call for a ceasefire has damaged his relationship with the American Muslim community beyond repair, according to Minneapolis-based Jaylani Hussein, who helped organize the conference.

“Families and children are being wiped out with our tax dollars,” Hussein said. “What we are witnessing today is the tragedy upon tragedy.”

Hussein, who is Muslim, told The Associated Press: “The anger in our community is beyond belief. One of the things that made us even more angry is the fact that most of us actually voted for President Biden. I even had one incident where a religious leader asked me, ‘How do I get my 2020 ballot so I can destroy it?” he said.

Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania were critical components of the “blue wall” of states that Biden returned to the Democratic column, helping him win the White House in 2020. About 3.45 million Americans identify as Muslim, or 1.1% of the country’s population, and the demographic tends to lean Democratic, according to Pew Research Center.

But leaders said Saturday that the community’s support for Biden has vanished as more Palestinian men, women and children are killed in Gaza.

“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,” Hussein said at the conference.

The Muslim community leaders’ condemnation of Biden does not indicate support for former President Donald Trump, the clear front-runner in the Republican primary, Hussein clarified.

“We don’t have two options. We have many options. And we’re going to exercise that,” he said.

___

Savage is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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