Muslim Americans face 'Abandon Biden' dilemma

MINNESOTA: Muslim American leaders from six battleground states on Saturday vowed to mobilise their communities against President Joe Biden's reelection over his support of Israel's war in Gaza, but they have yet to settle on an alternative 2024 candidate.

The states are among a handful that allowed Biden to win the 2020 election.

Opposition from their sizeable Muslim and Arab American communities could complicate the president's path to Electoral College victory next year.

"We don't have two options. We have many options," Jaylani Hussein, director of Minnesota's Council on American-Islamic Relations (Cair) chapter, said at a press conference in Dearborn, Michigan, when asked about Biden alternatives.

"We're not supporting (former President Donald) Trump," he said, adding that the Muslim community would decide how to interview other candidates.

Hussein has said he was expressing his personal views, not those of Cair.

The so-called #AbandonBiden campaign began when Minnesota Muslim Americans demanded Biden call for a ceasefire by Oct 31, and has spread to Michigan, Arizona, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Florida.

United States and Israeli officials have rebuffed pressure for a permanent halt in fighting, with US vice-president Kamala Harris on Saturday echoing Biden saying Israel has a right to defend itself.

Biden's campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Muslim Americans said they did not expect Trump to treat their community any better if reelected but saw denying Biden votes their only means to shape US policy.

It remains to be seen whether Muslim voters would turn against Biden en masse, but small shifts in support could make a difference in states Biden won by narrow margins in 2020.

A recent poll showed Biden's support among Arab Americans has plunged from a comfortable majority in 2020 to 17 per cent.

That could be decisive in a state like Michigan where Biden won by 2.8 percentage points and Arab Americans account for five per cent of the vote, according to the Arab American Institute.

There are around 25,000 Muslim voters in Wisconsin, a state where Biden won by about 20,000 votes, said Tarek Amin, a doctor representing the state's Muslim community.

"We will change the vote, we will swing it," said Amin.

In Arizona, where Biden won by around 10,500 votes, there are over 25,000 Muslim voters according to the US Immigration Policy Center at the University of California San Diego, Phoenix pharmacist Hazim Nasaredden said.

"We will not stand with a man who has tainted a blue wave with red drops of blood," said Nasaredden. -REUTERS

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