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Muslims vow to withhold votes unless Biden brokers Gaza cease-fire

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers a prime-time address to the nation in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., Oct. 19, 2023. (Getty Images Photo)

Muslim Americans, in conjunction with certain Democratic Party activists, have declared their plan to mobilize millions of Muslim voters, withholding both donations and votes for U.S. President Joe Biden’s 2024 reelection, unless prompt measures are taken to secure a Gaza cease-fire.

The National Muslim Democratic Council, consisting of Democratic Party leaders from pivotal states like Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, which are likely to be decisive in the election, has called on President Biden to use his influence with Israel to broker a cease-fire by 5 p.m. Eastern Time (9 p.m. GMT) on Tuesday.

In an open letter titled “2023 Ceasefire Ultimatum,” these Muslim leaders have committed to mobilizing Muslim voters to “withhold endorsement, support, or votes for any candidate who endorses the Israeli offensive against the Palestinian people.”

The council wrote, “Your administration’s unconditional support, including funding and armaments, has played a significant role in perpetuating the violence, resulting in civilian casualties and eroding the trust of voters who had previously placed their faith in you.”

The founding co-chairs of the organization are former U.S. Representative Keith Ellison, who is now Minnesota’s attorney general and the first Muslim elected to Congress, and Representative Andre Carson of Indiana.

This letter is the latest indication of mounting frustration and anger in Arab and Muslim American communities regarding President Biden’s failure to condemn Israel’s attacks on the Gaza Strip following the Oct. 7 Hamas incursion, which Israeli officials claim killed 1,400 people and took 239 hostages.

Medical authorities in Gaza reported on Tuesday that 8,525 people, including 3,542 children and 2,187 women, had been killed in Israel’s three-week-old air and ground campaign.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated on Monday that he would not agree to any cessation of the attacks on Gaza. U.S. national security spokesperson John Kirby commented, “Hamas is the only one that would gain from that right now.”

On Monday, Representative Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian American lawmaker from Minnesota, released a 90-second video on the social media site “X,” formerly known as Twitter, denouncing Biden’s support for what she referred to as “Israel’s genocidal campaign in Palestine” and added, “Don’t count on our vote in 2024.”

Basim Elkarra, executive director of the Sacramento Valley Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), emphasized that Muslim votes could be crucial for Biden in his 2024 reelection bid, pointing out that Michigan’s 16 electoral votes were won by a narrow margin of just 2.6% in 2020.

Last week, Muslim Americans in Minnesota, where Biden plans to visit on Wednesday, issued a similar ceasefire ultimatum with a noon Tuesday deadline. They have announced plans for a protest on Wednesday during the president’s visit to their state.

Biden’s reelection campaign has not provided an immediate comment.

Last Thursday, Biden held a meeting with a select group of Muslim leaders, as confirmed by a White House official, who added that administration officials continue to meet with members of the Arab and Muslim communities concerned about Biden’s approach to the crisis.

Despite being a self-described Zionist president, Biden has appointed more Arab Americans and Muslims to political positions than any of his predecessors, including the first two Muslim federal judges.

Jaylani Hussein, executive director of CAIR in Minnesota, stated that Muslim American leaders in other battleground states crucial to Biden’s 2024 reelection bid are expected to make similar demands. Hussein mentioned, “We anticipate Wisconsin, Ohio, and other states to do the same this week.”

Hussein clarified that he had no option but to vote against Biden in 2024 unless he called for a halt to the fighting, emphasizing that he was speaking as an individual, not on behalf of CAIR.

In 2020, approximately 70% of Muslim Americans supported Biden, according to Hussein.

Leaders from the Muslim American community in Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Ahmet Tekelioglu, executive director of CAIR in Philadelphia, mentioned that Muslim Americans in the state were calling for an immediate ceasefire, although he was not aware of specific plans to set a deadline.

By Reuters

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