In less than three weeks, Bernie Sanders being a friend of the Arab and Muslim American communities has become legendary, and the support from this community of Sanders voters has been growing online since his March 8 victory in Michigan.
For instance, along with hashtags like #MuslimsForBernie, there are many rapidly-growing community pages on Facebook that support Bernie Sanders from the Muslim and Arab American voter populations.
In addition, there are specific pages for Arabs and others for Muslims that want to show their support for anything related to Bernie Sanders. There is also a specific group on Facebook for Muslim volunteers for Bernie Sanders’ campaign.
Surprised Bernie sanders win Michigan First time in the history Muslims Voted for A Jewish Candidate !!!! pic.twitter.com/wRGIgrg7vs
— Egypt News (@Mahermee) March 13, 2016
Of course, there are also lots of photos of proud Arab or Muslim Americans that want to show the world that they stand behind Bernie Sanders despite the fact that they are Muslim and voting for “the Jewish guy.”
Much to the surprise of many Arab or Muslim Americans, Bernie Sanders being loved by the Arab and Muslim community in Michigan around March 8 blew the minds of many Americans.
After all, Bernie Sanders is Jewish, and some Americans seem to think that most Arabs or Muslims in America have a problem with people that are Jewish.
— Chastity Mansfield (@Chas_Mansfield) March 12, 2016
Alternatively, it is assumed by Muslims or Arabs in America that Bernie Sanders won their vote the good-old-fashioned way. On March 9, the Intercept supported the idea that Bernie Sanders’ religious or heritage background is irrelevant to many American Muslims or Arabs and states the following.
“A number of media commentators wondered why the first viable Jewish contender for the presidency would be winning support from Arab and Muslim Americans. The answer appears to be simple. Sanders won Dearborn [Michigan] the same way any candidate wins any constituency: by listening to its members and responding to their concerns.”
As a matter of fact, before Bernie Sanders was considered a top pick in Michigan, Arabs and Muslims in America were publishing opinion pieces to support him.
For example, a week before Bernie Sanders swept Michigan on March 1, New American Media reminded Muslim voters “To his credit, Sanders voted against the US Patriot Act and openly critiqued sweeping surveillance of Muslim Americans after 9/11…”
— Maggie_Mac (@at_maggiemac) March 18, 2016
This early support of Bernie Sanders by Muslims and Arabs could have begun around September 18, 2015, when Alternet posed the question “Why is Bernie Sanders so silent on hate toward Muslims?”
About a month later, on October 26, 2015, the Christian Science Monitor answered the question “Why Bernie Sanders is standing with Muslims.”
On the other hand, what could have nudged many Arabs or Muslims living in America toward Bernie Sanders was him making a major move on Twitter. New American Media points out that “In February, [Bernie Sanders’] campaign tweeted out a graphic in Arabic that translates as ‘Not me, us'” and referenced The Street.
— Qais Ghanem, Author (@QaisGhanem) March 10, 2016
Following this, around February 29, Al Jazeera printed an opinion piece asking Muslims to vote for Bernie Sanders and stated the following.
“Sanders’ economic policies illustrate that his social welfare programming and tax schemes would instantly advance the interests of nearly half of the Muslim American population.”
Naturally, after the news hit that Michigan Muslims and Arabs overwhelmingly supported Bernie Sanders, many Muslim and Arab Americans took offense to the idea that they would not vote for a Jewish candidate like Bernie Sanders because he has Jewish religious heritage.
On March 10, the Huffington Post included an opinion piece with the following quote.
“We’re living in an environment that’s not friendly to Arab-Americans or those of the Islamic faith. Saying that we don’t support Bernie because he’s of Jewish ancestry — that would be entirely hypocritical.”
CNN also had an opinion piece about Muslims voting for Bernie Sanders in Michigan and, on March 11, they quoted a voter from that area stating the following about her political beliefs.
“I appreciate the genuineness of Sanders’ campaign. I am a believer of single-payer health care, free tuition in public universities and expansion of other social service programs. I am pro-choice, pro-LGBTQ rights and am generally progressive politically.”
As it appears, it is not only Michigan’s Muslims that favor Bernie Sanders. On March 15, Bernie Sanders also turned out the Muslim vote in Ohio, according to the Daily Beast.
Since that initial observation around March 8, the media has continued to focus on Muslim and Arab voters supporting Bernie Sanders, and, on March 24, the NY Times claims that, in the end, it might be the anti-Muslim and anti-Arab threats of GOP candidates like Donald Trump that are actively “driving Muslims to vote” against the Republicans.
Arab American News endorses Bernie Sanders.
— Khaled Beydoun (@KhaledBeydoun) March 6, 2016
In summary, the NY Times quotes Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), stating the following about why Muslims or Arab Americans are voting for Bernie Sanders in 2016.
“The fear and apprehension in the American Muslim community has never been at this level. The anti-Islamic tidal wave is spurring civic participation.”
[Picture by Natalie Behring/Stringer/Getty Images]