Running for Congress
In 2018 Fayrouz Saad stood for the U.S. House, from Michigan's 11th District.
Donald Trump swept into office on a wave of xenophobia aimed at Muslims and immigrants. If she wins, Fayrouz Saad, 34, will be the first Muslim woman elected to Congress. Saad, the daughter of Lebanese immigrants, worked in Obama’s Department of Homeland Security as a liaison with immigrant communities.
Republicans have become increasingly vulnerable among white, college-educated women, and the district consists of affluent suburbs northwest of Detroit. Mitt Romney and Trump won it by about 5 points in 2012 and 2016—but Obama won it by 2 points in 2008. The incumbent Republican is not seeking re-election, and the wide-open field in a purple district makes this a winnable race for both parties. The race will test how well a progressive agenda plays in suburban America.
Saad is a product of Michigan’s public schools, including the University of Michigan, and has positioned herself as the most progressive of the five Democrats in the race, emphasizing Medicare for All, infrastructure investments, higher wages, immigration reform and education. On education, she has an excellent foil in billionaire Betsy DeVos, Trump’s Secretary of Education, who helped make Michigan a laboratory for right-wing experiments with privatization. Education Week recently ranked the state’s schools 34th in the nation overall. Saad is calling for free community college, more funding for teachers’ colleges and apprenticeship programs, higher teacher salaries and fewer standardized tests.
Emgage Action rally
Politicians and activists rallied Muslim Americans in Dearborn on July 29 2018 to encourage voter participation in the upcoming Aug. 7 primary election and to register new voters for the November ballot.
Held outside the Ford Community and Performing Arts Center, there was a festive atmosphere, with bouncy houses for children, and food vendors to tempt tastes, but there was a serious message to impart: In an election pivotal to Muslim Americans candidates and voters, every vote will count, in the primary and general election, and eligible citizens should register and learn about the process and ballot.
The event was organized and sponsored by Emgage Action, an American Muslim community advocacy organization; Mpower Change, a grassroots movement working to build social, spiritual, racial and economic justice for all people; the Michigan Muslim Community Council, which works to unify communities and promote social justice; and the National Network for Arab American Communities, an Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services Institution.
“What we’re trying to do is energize our community, get them out to the polls, because we have a lot of great candidates right now,” Al-Hanooti said. “Not only because they are Muslim, but because they are extremely qualified and viable candidates. So this is our time, and we are taking full advantage and mobilizing.”
Gubernatorial candidate Abdul El-Sayed and political activist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who spoke at the rally, were the reason many attended, but for Majeda Tafish, 40, of Dearborn, who became a naturalized citizen 10 years ago, it was a chance to take the first step to register to vote.
In the past, Tafish said, the lists of candidates and the issues seemed daunting to her.
“I want to vote, to have a voice,” she said. “Wherever I go, they keep saying, ‘Vote, vote,’ but I see a big list and I don’t know any of them. They give me a brochure that says nice things about them, but I don’t know who to believe.”
Among the politicians on hand for the event were Sam Beydoun, candidate for Wayne County Commissioner; Donald Stuckey II, candidate for Michigan’s 9th state House district; state Rep. Sylvia Santana, current House Representative for the 9th district, who is running for state Senator for District 3; Gary Woronchak, Wayne County Commission chairman, who is running for state Senate in the 3rd district; Fatou-Seydi Sarr, candidate for state House in the 8th district; Abraham Aiyash, candidate for the state Senate 2nd district; U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D – 12th District),; Fayrouz Saad, candidate for U.S. House 11th district; Rashida Tlaib, candidate for the U.S. House 13th district; state Rep. Abdullah Hammoud, 15th district; Democratic primary gubernatorial candidate Abdul El-Sayed; and Michigan Supreme Court Candidates Samuel Bagenstos and Megan Cavanagh.
Sarr, Aiyash, Dingell, Saad, Tlaib, Hammoud, El-Sayed, Bagenstos and Cavanagh were among the politicians who spoke at the event. They were joined by speakers Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan Chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations; Ahmad Abuznaid, director of the National Network for Arab American Communities, an Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services institution; activist Khadega Mohammed; activist Linda Sarsour; and political activist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York City.
Abdul El-Sayed called for the Muslim voting community to raise its voices, vote and encourage others to vote in the primary and general election.
“When you look at who we are right now, we are so much better,” he said. “That is the opportunity in front of us on Aug. 7. Let’s not lose that opportunity because we, together, are doing the work of democracy. Now let’s go get it.”
Muslims running for office
Universal Muslim Association of America (UMAA), July 18, 2018.
Muslim Americans are running for office in unprecedented levels. Come hear from these individuals speak about the unique experiences, challenges and perspectives they have as they seek to have a voice in developing policy. — with Billy Amen, Abdullah Hammoud, Sam Baydoun For Wayne County Commissioner, Fayrouz Saad and Rashida Tlaib For Congress.