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CAIR, MPower Change and Jetpac Release Updated Report on Muslim Political Mobilization in the Trump Era

Updated report highlights successful Muslim political candidates and campaigns in 2016- 2019 elections

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 7/23/19) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Jetpac and MPower Change today released an updated version of their report, ”˜The Rise of American Muslim Changemakers,’ documenting the 323 American Muslims who ran for public office since the election of Donald Trump in 2016 and the subsequent rise in anti-Muslim bigotry.

[NOTE: The report’s release coincides with the first day of the Muslim Caucus Education Collective’s inaugural conference taking place in Washington, D.C., on July 22-24. The conference is expected to be the largest such gathering in the country.]

READ THE ENTIRE REPORT: The Rise of American Muslim Changemakers

Muslim Caucus to hold first conference amid Trump’s attacks

[MEDIA ADVISORY: One of the authors of the report, CAIR Research & Advocacy Director Dr. Abbas Barzegar, as well as leaders from the report’s co-authors, Jetpac and MPower Change, will speak at the Muslim Caucus Conference on July 23-24 in Washington, D.C. SEE: Sessions featuring CAIR speakers will be livestreamed on its Facebook page at: ]

The updated report includes profiles of those who ran for office during 2018 and 2019, including newly-elected Pennsylvania State Representative Movita Johnson-Harrell, Virginia State Delegate Dr. Ibraheem Samirah and Montgomery (New Jersey) Township Mayor Sadaf Jaffer, among many others elected in 2019.

The updated report, which features easy-to-read graphics, shows that these and other American Muslim candidates were unapologetic in the face of relentless political attacks on their faith, heritage and political orientation. It also outlines successful Muslim political campaign strategies and grassroots organizing techniques.

“As American Muslims from across our country gather in the nation’s capital this week for the inaugural ”˜Muslim Caucus’ — even as a disgraced and racist president insults them and all Americans in a desperate cry for attention — they stand proud, tall, and determined to mark this moment in history. ”˜The Rise of American Muslim Changemakers’ records their courage, intelligence and unbridled determination to protect the pluralism required for a healthy democracy.” – Nihad Awad, CAIR National Executive Director

“What we’re seeing right now is the burgeoning of a movement that has been on the cusp of mainstream recognition for years. The year 2018 was a landmark year for American Muslim electoral involvement, and it was given appropriate credit as such – but the campaigns that our updated report cover show that 2018 was more than just a spike and is in fact the start of an upwards trend that presents huge potential for 2020. The Muslim community is organizing: building a strong national infrastructure of grassroots organizations and strong candidates to take back their narrative in American politics.” – Shaun Kennedy, Executive Director Jetpac

“As we head into the elections next year, this updated report clearly demonstrates that Muslims are taking control of their political destiny. The original report demonstrates that our community values are being lived out through grassroots organizing and running for public office. We are proud to document this moment and hope the momentum goes well beyond 2020 into building grassroots power in our communities.” – Ishraq Ali, Organizing Director MPower Change

Highlights of the Report Include:

  • A total of 323 candidates ran or are running for elected office between 2016 and 2019 at various levels of government despite the overwhelming anti-Muslim narrative in the public sphere.
  • Of this total, 117 candidates, or a full 36 percent, were female, proving once more that gender-based stereotypes that diminish the role of American Muslim women in community life are more myth than reality.
  • 323 candidates ran a total of 342 campaigns: 173 for local office, 73 for state legislatures, and 32 for Congress. The remainder were for county (27), judiciary (20), statewide seats (11) or party positions (6).
  • The top five states that saw the highest number of Muslim candidates running for office were: New Jersey (86), Michigan (55), California (27), Minnesota (26), Illinois (20).
  • American Muslims candidates raised nearly $17 million during this period for their various campaigns.

Report Findings Include:

  • The report profiles successful American Muslim electoral campaign winners.
  • Movita Johnson-Harrell became the first Muslim woman in the Pennsylvania state legislature.
  • Sadaf Jaffer became the first South Asian American Muslim woman to serve as a mayor in New Jersey.
  • The report found that these American Muslim candidates are unapologetic in the face of relentless attacks on their faith, heritage, and political orientation. Muslims campaigning for office, and serving the public, come from various backgrounds and are proactive and bold about their identity as empowered citizens who are committed to their faith and ready to serve their constituents on issues that affect all Americans.
  • American Muslim candidates are most likely to prioritize people before profit, with their campaigns rooted in grassroots organizing, strategizing, and fundraising. As the profiles in this report show, these candidates’ policy priorities are grounded in local interests. Issues such as fair wages, affordable and accessible healthcare and equitable housing top their strategic priorities.
  • In the face of rising Islamophobia embraced by partisans on the political right, rather than retreating from an uninviting political arena or acquiescing to the rampant cynicism that defines much of the average citizen’s attitude to formal politics, Muslim candidates have jumped directly into the combative public arena, exemplifying that principled and purposeful civic engagement is the only way to repair what so many see as a failing system.
  • African-American Muslim candidates like Cleveland City Councilman Basheer Jones and Massachusetts attorney Tahirah Amatul-Wadud have carried the legacy of African-American Muslim contributions to the formal political arena. They laid the groundwork and set the precedent for their coreligionists to be grassroots-oriented, service-committed and unapologetically Muslim.

About the Report Authors:

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.

Jetpac (Justice Education Technology Political Advocacy Center) is a training and educational organization that seeks to build a strong American Muslim political infrastructure and increase the community’s influence and engagement.

MPower Change is one of the largest Muslim-led social and racial justice organizations in the United States. Rooted in the Islamic faith and the Prophetic model, it believes in building a more just world for all people.


CONTACT: CAIR Research and Advocacy Department Director Dr. Abbas Barzegar at (404) 825-0336;, Jetpac Executive Director Shaun J. Kennedy at (626) 538-7221,; and, MPower Change Organizing Director Ishraq Ali, (631) 220-8712,


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