April 19, 2016
NEW YORK — On the eve of New York’s Primary Day, Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders camp released a powerful campaign ad.
The ad, clearly targeted to Muslim New Yorkers is meant to tug at the very heart of Islamophobia and meant to rally Muslim new Yorkers around Sanders as the candidate who has their back.
According to the Muslim Democratic Club of New York, there are at least a 100,000 registered Muslim New York voters. Over 70 percent are estimated to be Democrats. Sanders outreach to this particular sector of the community is a pivotal reason why it appears the majority are throwing their support to Sanders over his competitor, front-runner Hillary Clinton.
“It’s a very competitive primary I think it’s more competitive than anyone believed it to be. I think tomorrow what we’ll see if increased turnout, record turnout from a lot of new immigrant communities especially the Muslim-American communities,” said Ali Najmi, Co-Founder of the Muslim Democratic Club of New York.
Ali Najmi co-founded the organization in 2013 and is among those feeling the Bern.
The group and others like it have been, for months, knocking on doors, making calls, engaging local Muslim leaders and holding round-table discussions.
It’s goal, using mostly the younger, vocal generation of Muslim-Americans to increase voter turn out not only tomorrow, but for eventually for every election.
“We saw there was a tremendous need to increase voter registration increase enrollment in the democratic party increase awareness of the importance of a primary election vs general election,” said Najmi.
The efforts are very much reminiscent to efforts led by African-Americans when President Barack Obama ran for the White House. The “Get Out the Vote” campaign attributed to Obama beating Clinton, but could it happen again, only this time Muslims leading the charge? Najmi believes it worked in the Michigan primaries when Sanders beat Clinton, so why not here in New York.
“They’re using the framework and it’s an important framework to use,” said Basil Smikle, Executive Director of the New York State Democratic Party. Smikle once worked for Clinton during her first Senate race and he says Tuesday will be an interesting primary to watch. He believes Muslim New Yorkers, among other minority groups have the capability to swing votes.
“With a lot of the Islamophoic, Xenophobic dialogue coming from the right this is an important opportunity for communities like the Muslim community to organize and really let their voices be heard. My biggest concern is as you look at these rallies and watching the kind of energy these young voters have, they need to come out in November too,” says Smikle.