For someone to know how much stakes Muslim New Yorkers have in the New York electoral process, one needs to first understand the status of Muslims and their socio-political impacts in the state of about over 19 million populace, wherein The Bronx county takes only 1.42 million, according to 2020 census. This is also the county where Muslims are about 40 thousand, according to the Association of Religion Data Archives.
Islam, the religion practised by Muslims, according to available data, is the third-largest religion in the United States after Christianity and Judaism; study shows that Muslim cover about 3.5 million of the country’s population. Essentially, in the words, of Mory Kouyate, founder of African Immigrant Commission in New York and Connecticut, African America and other Black immigrations take about 26% of the total Muslim population, not only in New York but also in others parts of the United States. Recent study from World Population Review 2022 also asserts that population of American Muslims is racially illustrated thus: 25% black, 24% white, 18% Asian, 18% Arab, 7% mixed race, and 5% Hispanic. Generally speaking, it is believed that Muslim population growth in New York can be traced to a rapidly growing population of Bangladeshi Americans and Pakistani Americans. These two entrepreneurial communities have about 95 per cent Muslim populace.
It is therefore believed that there are over one million Muslims living in New York State. There are 2,028 New York Muslims per 100K, according to recent survey. Hence, this means that just as any other religious communities in New York, Muslims leaders have significant stakes in NYS electoral process.
Mory Kouyate, Muslim immigrant activist and Bronx community organizer, said, “We, Muslim leaders, have a stake because we live here, and most of our children are born here. What the electoral officials decide will affect us greatly. Consequently, We must participate in the electoral process in order to have a say in who is going to be our political leaders.” This means since decisions of electoral/public official directly or indirectly of Muslims, just as they affect other religious group or communities, it is paramount that Muslim New Yorkers are actively engaged in the electoral process.
Perhaps, this is why Abdoulaye Cisse, a Bronx community organizer and Executive Director of Bridging Africa & Black America Incorporated (BABA Inc.), reiterated that “Muslim leaders have just as much stake as non-Muslim leaders. We (Muslims) need to stay informed on issues and policies impacting our community and make sure the needs of our community are met”.
Hence, the big question now is: Which party are Muslim voters in NYS likely to support and why?
Having consulted a significant number of potential Muslim voters in New York, findings show even though majority of Muslim voters are ideologically conservative, they prefer voting for Democratic Party candidates.
Cisse noted that “most New Yorkers generally vote for Democrats. Hence, African Muslims, in particular, represent the large portion of New Yorkers who typically vote for Democrats”.
Mory Kouyate, therefore, opined that most African Muslim voters in NYS tend to vote Democratic Party candidates because they “feel like they speak to them more and they fight for most of the things that Muslim immigrants care about, such as good immigrant policy, good healthcare and good education for all.
Unlike in the past, politicians are now seen regularly visiting Mosques and other gatherings of Muslims in New York to sell and share their campaign manifestos and/or lobby for the support of Muslim leaders who are socio-politically proactive.
When asked why politicians take campaign in Muslim communities very serious, Bronx-based community organizer Abdoulaye Cisse said, “This is because the Muslim community is fast growing, and because of the advocacy of Muslim groups and leaders, I’ve seen more candidates reach out to Muslim voters more in recent years, than in years past.”
Additionally, recent study shows that common issues Muslim voters consider important to them specifically revolve around immigration and assimilation. These are critical to them and often influence their decision when determining who to give their votes to at the poll.
Like any other New Yorkers, they also seek for opportunities in the areas of accessibility to healthcare, education, and housing.
Study also shows that these Muslim voters are concerned about increase in crime rate and are willing to vote for candidate with concrete plan on how to create more economic opportunities for them and alleviate crime rate and gun violence, especially among the vulnerable youth populace.
“Cost of living has increased to record high numbers, so we could all use a better, fruitful economy. We also need more public investments in our neighborhoods to create more opportunities that could address and reduce some of the high crime rate,” the Executive Director of BABA Inc. noted.
“It is important to have elected officials that are willing and able to fight for issues that affect us directly and elected officials that are willing and able to represent or align with our values,” Cisse added.
“The Muslim community should remain civically engaged. Know your local leaders from top to bottom. Engage all of them since they have a say in the future of your children,” the Bronx-based founder of African Immigrant Commission NY&CT also added.
In conclusion, the fact that nowadays Muslims actively partake in civic activities in The Bronx (in particular) and New York (in general) shows that Muslims would have more says in the socio-political decisions in the Bronx county and of course across the state. The increase in the population of Asian and African Muslim Immigrants and progressive activities of some of their leaders signal better opportunities for them in the socio-political future of New York would give room for Muslim New Yorkers to have more says in the politics and electoral process, as it is believed that politics is a game of number. With the involvement of Muslim leaders in civic activities, New York politicians and government can easily convey their message to Muslim community members and also engage them in fundamental civic duties, especially during election seasons.