Democratic candidate became first to address Muslim-American organisationJul 21st 2020 · 2 min read
Democratic US presidential candidate and former vice president Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event in Wilmington, Delaware, US, on July 14, 2020. Reuters
Democratic US presidential nominee Joe Biden pledged on Monday to end the Trump administration’s “Muslim ban” and include voices from the community in his administration if he wins on November 3.
Mr Biden was speaking to the activist group Emgage Action, in the first address by a US presidential nominee to a Muslim-American organisation.
He told an online audience of about 700 participants that he would end US President Donald Trump's “Muslim ban” on the first day of his administration.
Mr Trump announced the travel ban as a candidate in December 2015 and partly enforced it in an executive order in January, 2017.
The order bans nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen from entering the US.
It also covers travellers from North Korea and some government officials from Venezuela.
“If I become president, I will end the Muslim ban on day one. Day one,” Mr Biden said.
“I want to earn your vote, I want to work in partnership with you ... to make sure your voices are included in our nation.”
He tried to draw a sharp contrast with Mr Trump on issues relevant to the Muslim-American community, such as rejecting Islamophobia and accepting a Palestinian state.
"I'll continue to champion the rights of Palestinians and Israelis to have a state of their own, as I have for decades," Mr Biden said. "Each of them, a state of their own."
Calling Mr Trump “a poison”, he asked Muslim-American voters to help him defeat the president in November.
He said the Muslim community was integral to US success in fighting the pandemic, advancing social justices, serving in US military and helping the community.
“I will be a president that recognises and honours your contribution,” Mr Biden said.
He quoted a hadith, from the collection of sayings and deeds of the Prophet Mohammed, in advocating activism.
“Whoever among you sees a wrong, then he should change it with his hand; if he is not able to, with his tongue; if he is not able to, with his heart.”
Mr Biden was taking part in Emgage’s Million Muslim Votes Summit, aimed at galvanising different Muslim-American organisations to register one million votes before November.
There are an estimated 2.15 million adult Muslims in the US, the Pew Research Centre says.
Many have significant numbers in swing states that could determine the outcome of election, such as Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Fewer than 80,000 votes in these states swung the election to Mr Trump against Hillary Clinton in 2016.
“Muslim-American communities are organising like never before, to maximise our voter turnout and to ensure that our voices are represented,” Wael Al Zayat, chief executive of Emgage Action, said before the event.
In a recent study, the Institute for Social Policy Understanding found that 73 per cent of eligible Muslims were registered to vote in 2019, up from 60 per cent in 2016.