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Building common-cause coalitions is one of the ways that Muslim activists believe they can make their votes – and their issues – count more.
That is certainly the view of another convert, who is playing a central role in educating Cleveland’s Muslim population about the voting process.
Julia Shearson’s ancestors may have arrived in the first wave of English settlers to America, but now she is dressed like millions of other Muslim women around the world, and running the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) office in the city.
She is well aware of CAIR’s role as a lightning rod for criticism from right-wing advocacy groups who regard it as a cloak for so-called Islamofacism.
She rejects the conspiracy theories completely, but contends that Islamophobia – stoked by media demonisation – is a daily threat to all American Muslims.
“We should be drafted as advisors and policy experts, as people who can help understand and help mediate this horrible crisis between America and the Muslim world,” she said.
“Exactly when our help could be most utilised, we’ve been effectively marginalised and stymied and stifled… But at the same time it will never work. A people can never be kept down.”
CAIR is not endorsing specific candidates, but she sees the move towards Mr Obama, by the young in particular, as part of a wider awakening.
“What we see happening in the Muslim community is that our young people who before used to go into medicine – their parents are now saying, we have enough doctors – they’re all going into journalism, political science, and law.”
“It’s wonderful to see them really stand up and try and protect their families from these horrible civil rights abuses.”


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