Most American Muslims are not registered to vote. If you’re one of them, maybe I couldn’t blame you – until this year.
It’s easy to think that your vote doesn’t count. In most Presidential elections, you’d probably be right: most of the time, there’s a clear leader in the polls, and your vote probably won’t sway it.
This time, it’s different. Hillary and Trump are neck and neck. Even if you believe in the Illuminati secretly manipulating elections, this time they’ve dropped the ball – it really is too close to call.
This is real democracy. Your vote could actually decide who sits in the White House. Who decides whether the economy will give you a decent job. Whether you or your parents can get hospital care.
This isn’t as crazy as it sounds: in 2000, the results in Florida were decided by 537 votes, and New Mexico by 363. You probably have more Facebook friends than that.
American Muslims have got it good. You have a lot to lose. Most of you (or your parents) came from countries where we lacked the freedom to live the life we want, enjoy the freedoms we choose, and build our futures, that we have in the US. If this isn’t making sense, imagine being forced to move back to where you or your parents were born – forever.
And you don’t need to try too hard to imagine a President that could create an environment where that happens. If we let Donald Trump become President Trump, Muslims will not be welcome in the States.
Trump’s Muslim ban only applies to foreign Muslims, but it is a matter of time before people start asking: ‘if we can’t trust foreign Muslims, how can we trust American Muslims? What’s the difference, really? They look foreign. Their names sound foreign. Some of them even talk foreign. How do I know they’re even real Americans? All Muslims are Foreign Muslims.’
Even if you don’t identify as a ‘Muslim With A Capital M’ you’re in the firing line. Attacks against Muslims have tripled in recent weeks. At the moment it’s usually women in headscarves and guys with beards, but how long ‘til it moves on to anyone with a Muslim name?
Because in Trump’s America, there won’t be ‘good Muslims’ and ‘bad Muslims’ anymore – there will just be Muslims, and they will all be bad. An atheist girl with a Muslim name because her absent father was born in Pakistan is as Muslim as the local Imam, is as Muslim as a Daesh terrorist. We’ve been ‘racialised’. We are ‘the other’.
We must learn from history to avoid repeating it. Despots don’t come out on day one and say ‘I want to murder my own people’.
Their first step is always to racialise: ‘That group of people aren’t loyal to our country. They still belong to their own group, even if they pretend to belong to our country and the only language they speak is our language. The least we should do is maintain a national register of them – for everyone’s protection.’
Sound familiar? Most of the people we call dictators or despots didn’t start out that way – they won elections. And it’s difficult to imagine them being elected without at least some of that victimised group voting for them – or staying home on polling day (which amounts to the same thing): ‘He’s talking about the bad guys – not us. We’re the good guys! It never makes any difference who you vote for anyway.’
Even if you feel let down by Obama. Even if you feel that after believing in change, America has had 8 years of the same. Even if you hate all politicians: this election is about you. You, your family and your friends. Whether your resume gets ignored because your name sounds scary. Whether your girlfriend’s parents are ok with her dating a Muslim. Whether you can continue to be American.
So if you are American, and you’re even the tiniest bit Muslim-ish, register to vote – then vote for Hillary. Depending on where you live, you might have as little as 10 days left to register to vote.
A non-vote is a vote for Trump. A vote for Jill Stein is a vote for Trump. If you don’t vote to keep Trump out, it might be the last vote you ever have.
by Muddassar Ahmed
Muddassar Ahmed is an entrepreneur, activist and writer.