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CAIR-WA Holds First-Ever Live-Cast Elections Debates at Muslim Community Venue

CAIR logoAudience included 150+ registered voters with ballots, pens in hand, American Muslim veterans, law enforcement, medical professionals, and scouts

(SEATTLE, WA, 10/25/2016) — On Monday, October 24, 2016, the Washington state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-WA) held secretary of state and Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) debates at Muslim Association of Puget Sound (MAPS) in Redmond, Wash. 

Distinguished audience members including American Muslim U.S. military combat veterans, fire fighters, public school teachers, young first-time voters and families with children, among others, introduced themselves in detail and asked questions of the candidates. [NOTE: Many of these distinguished persons are available for interviews this week and beyond].

The OSPI debate between Erin Jones and Chris Reykdal began at 6:30 p.m. The secretary of state debate between incumbent Republican Kim Wyman and Democratic challenger Tina Podlodowski began at 7:30 p.m.  KIRO-TV and KHQ-TV streamed the debates live on their web sites, and


OSPI debate on KIRO7 Facebook:

Secretary of State debate:

To find both videos on KHQ TV’s (Spokane) Facebook page, scroll down at

Audience members posted photos and videos on social media using hashtage #MuslimsVote.  The audience of about 250 persons included at least 150 registered WA Muslim voters including at U.S. military veterans and current personnel in uniform/identifying headwear, hate crime victims, public school teachers, nurses and medical doctors in scrubs and white coats, firefighters, law enforcement in uniform, families with kids, and distinguished youth. Some interfaith leaders – Christian and other – wore clerical attire.

All questions were asked by audience members and the debates were facilitated by two dynamic moderators – Aneelah Afzali, an attorney and interfaith advocate and Rev. Paul Benz, an ordained Lutheran pastor and co-director of the Faith Action Network.  Many community members cited facts and statistics compiled on including the following:


  • Over 10,000 American Muslims serve in our nation’s armed forces, and many have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country, including U.S. Army Specialist Kareem Khan, U.S. Army Major James Ahearn, U.S. Army Specialist Rasheed Sahib, and U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan.
  • There are about 50,000 American Muslim medical doctors across the nation saving lives every day.
  • A Gallup Poll on American Muslims found that American Muslim women are the second most highly educated religious group of women in the U.S., and are just as likely as American Muslim men to have a college degree or higher education.
  • A study conducted by Media Tenor of primetime news 2007-2013 found that Islam is featured in primetime news more than any other religion, and the coverage is overwhelmingly negative.
  • Research shows that it’s the news coverage and commentary, not the event itself that determines how the public will react and whether members of a minority group will face hate violence.  Research by University of Hawaii, University of Exeter & National Hispanic Media Coalition indicates that media content can have a direct effect on hate and prejudice against minority groups.  Accurate language can inform readers, while loaded language misleads readers and fuels hate and prejudice.
  • While no federal agency collects data on harassment and discrimination experienced by children based on their religion, according to community-based surveys, 80% of American Muslim youth have reported being targets of taunts and harassment, oftentimes in front of teachers and school administrators.

The moderators urged those watching to vote early. “Find your ballots in the mail!  The envelope looks like this . Inside you’ll find your ballot, security envelope, and return envelope.  Vote by filling out this ballot form, put it in the security envelope, put this security envelope in the return envelope, sign it, and mail this back this week!  Don’t wait for the deadline of November 8,†said Aneelah Afzali a co-moderator of the debate.

CAIR-WA provided television and radio media with access to audio connections or satellite coordinates of source feed for media outside Seattle, and direct audio inputs for radio stations.  A large 3-foot high riser will be available for photographers to get great vantage points for photos and video footage, and free parking in the venue parking lot. The event also featured professional broadcast studio quality lighting, staging in order to be appealing to TV audiences and to maximize visibility of the audience members, not just the candidates and moderators, throughout the event.

CAIR-WA is a chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

La misión de CAIR es mejorar la comprensión del Islam, fomentar el diálogo, proteger las libertades civiles, capacitar a los musulmanes estadounidenses, y construir coaliciones que promuevan la justicia y la comprensión mutua.

CONTACT:  CAIR-WA Executive Director Arsalan Bukhari at or 206.931.3655

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