Florida has taken a huge step forward last night and the Islamophobia machine has taken a huge step back. Last night's election results have taught us many important lessons and inspired great hope: We ARE overcoming the Islamophobia Industry & tolerance and moderation will prevail! Most importantly, last nights election results proved that the people of Florida will not tolerate Islamophobia and that candidates running on an anti-Muslim platform will have a difficult, if not impossible time succeeding! The message sent to politicians was clear--you cannot succeed by attacking minorities and you cannot win without diverse supporters! The bottom line: By participating in the political process, we can help goodness prevail and make a positive difference!
- One of Congresses' loudest Islamophobes, incumbent Florida Rep. Allen West (R), who claims Islam is not a religion but is instead a "totalitarian theocratic political ideology" that is a "very vile and very vicious enemy," was defeated!
- See: "Top House Islamophobe Allen West Falls" (Daily Beast)
- Florida State Representative Adam Hasner (R) was defeated in his bid for Congress. Hasner once co-hosted an event featuring Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders that was also sponsored by Anti-Muslim hate group leader Pamela Geller. In 2009, Hasner attempted to block a "Florida Muslim Capitol Day." In 2007, he sponsored a screening of the anti-Muslim film "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West" for state legislators.
- Local anti-Muslim candidate, Terry Kemple, lost his bid for the Hillsborough County School Board. Kemple's main issue in the race was attacking Islam and seeking to keep Muslim speakers out of local schools.
Several other anti-Muslim candidates were defeated throughout the States yesterday and the Anti-Muslim Caucus took a big hit. While CAIR is strictly non-partisan, we are happy to report that this is a strong indication that Islamophobia is losing ground and Islamophobic rhetoric will hurt not help those seeking office. This is a reflection of the diversity and moderation that makes up the majority of our society. A few other important lessons were:
- Anti-Muslim candidates were defeated or narrowly escaped defeat despite often outspending their more moderate opponents by 2-6 times.
- This is a strong indication that anti-Muslim candidates receive strong funding from a small but wealthy group of donors whose voice is inconsistent with the majority. Thus their more moderate opponents have been able to succeed despite having a fraction of the resources.
- Our fight against Islamophobia is gaining ground and the more we are civically engaged the more those promoting fear and hatred of Muslims will be pushed to the fringe of society.
- It will be increasingly difficult for candidates to secure office without the support of the Muslim Swing Vote--especially with tens of thousands of registered Muslim voters being concentrated in swing states where elections are often won by only thousands of votes.
Last night should serve as a great motivation for all of us to continue to be civically engaged, participate int he political process, stand up for our rights, fight Islamophobia, and be proud of who we are. Join me this Saturday to celebrate the fight for civil rights at the CAIR Florida Annual Banquet. Register soon, the event is nearly sold out!
Hassan Shibly , Esq
CAIR Florida Executive Director (Tampa)