Muslim Candidacy in New York State Political Arena

NY City Councilwoman Shahana Hanif and NY State Assemblyman Charles Fall

In recent time, Muslims in New York State are now fully aware of importance of being actively engaged in civics activities. They have advanced from self-political apartheid to vying for political positions in every county and every district of the state. More importantly, for the first time in history, two Muslim immigrants, mostly from Africa, Ahmadou Diallo and Abdourahmane Diallo, recently attempted vying for the position of City Council member in the same District 16. Unfortunately, they both lost to another condition, as they could not reach a consensus before the primaries.

In an interviewed with a Parkchester Times reporter, Abdoulaye Cisse, the Executive Director of Bridging Africa & Black America Incorporated (BABA Inc.), he noted that there are currently only “two elected officials who are Muslim. The first is State Assembly Member Charles Fall of District 61 in Staten Island, and second is newly elected City Council Member Shana Hanif of District 39 in Brooklyn”. Unfortunately, no Muslim in the Bronx is in the race in this year’s election. Perhaps, they are still managing to recover from the loss they experienced in the last year’s city council election.

Shockingly, recent study shows that there are some Muslim New York politicians who have decided to hide their faith identity, perhaps, due to fear of losing potential voters in their district. In fact, I was recently hinted that there is a Muslim Brooklynite candidate in this year’s political race who has decided to undisclosed their Islamic identity.

“Although it’s difficult to measure someone’s religious faith, I don’t believe there’s any Muslim candidate in running in The Bronx. However, there is one candidate who I personally know who is a Muslim. I won’t say the person’s name because they haven’t been public about their faith. This person is a State Assembly candidate in Brooklyn,” disclosed BABA Inc. Executive Director.

What this is telling us is that some Muslims in New York are still scared of publicly disclosing their faith, maybe, to avoid losing socio-political opportunities or due to personal inferiority complex. Also, it might be because they fear being stigmatized by religious bigots and racists among New Yorkers.

Mory Kouyate, the founder of African Immigrants’ Commission NY & CT, however, believe that some potential Muslims candidates, particularly in The Bronx, who hide their identity often do so, simply, because they believe that ‘politics is a game of number’; and that they might “lose the support of some potential voters who are “majority” non-Muslims if they know they’re Muslims’. More so, Muhammad Drammeh, a Bronx-based young adventurer and college graduate, added that some mainstream media “add wounds to the injury because some of them are being used to damage the image of Islam; hence, they’ve succeed in branding Islam as a religion of terrorists, using their devilish and heinous acts of 0.0000001 per cent of Muslims around the globe. So they’ve stereotypically succeeded in painting Islam red and making Muslims look like beasts in the eyes of the gullible masses”.

Now the question is: What is left for Muslims in this year’s elections? Do non-Muslim politicians need their vote? Do they even bother to reach out to Muslim community?

The answers are simple: the only power Muslim New Yorkers have this year is their votes, and this is why, considering the recent rapid growth of number of Muslims in The Bronx, Brooklyn and other parts of the state, politicians regularly visit reach out to Muslim communities during the campaign season. Some of them genuinely support Muslims in dire need. For instance, a display of this generosity could be glaringly seen when Muslim community members in the Bronx recently experienced fire outbreak that claimed 17 Gambian and Malian Muslim immigrants.

In Kouyate’s observation, “candidates (this year) have been trying to reach out to the African immigrant community in the Bronx and the rest of NYS in general, not just only to the African Muslim community in particular.”

Could this regular outreach to Muslim communities in the Bronx and beyond translate to massive turnout of Muslim voters in this year’s primaries and November 8 elections?

With adequate sensitization campaigns launched by some Muslim leaders and regularly visitation of candidates for campaigns, most Muslim New Yorkers, according to Cisse, now “understand their place in New York and understand the power of (their) vote”.

“There won’t be a massive turnout of Muslim voters because turnout for local elections, across all communities in general, is usually low,” he however lamented. “The Muslims who do go out and vote will represent the larger Muslim population who don’t vote.”

Kouyate, on the other hand, said, “We expect the voter turn out to continue to go up as many more people are qualified to vote in the local elections.” I believe he is alluding to the recent bill passed which gives permanent residents opportunity to vote in local elections.

Finally, looking at the continuous steadily growth of number of Muslims in New York and the impacts of some Muslim activists and community organizers like Abdulaye Cisse, Sheikh Musa Drammeh, Gbenga Subair, Mory Kouyate and a host of other muslim leaders and clergymen in the Bronx and beyond, one can easily conclude more and more Muslims would be elected to man some powerful position in the nearest future.

In conclusion, to know the political mind set, read this final message of Abdoulaye Cisse: “Voting is critically important. If you choose not to use your vote, someone’s else’s vote will support policies that impact your life for multiple years. There are many Muslim New Yorkers who are ineligible to vote. If you’re privileged to do so, please do not waste it.”

1 thought on “Muslim Candidacy in New York State Political Arena

  1. We have to advocate to all our Muslims brothers and sisters to come out in their large numbers to vote, if we can get funding that will be great.

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