More than 50 candidates in this fall's elections are expected to appear in Reston tomorrow at a political picnic organized by a group of Northern Virginia mosques, and organizers say the heavy turnout underscores the growing influence of Muslim voters in local politics.
The event, the group's seventh annual "family and civic picnic," has a dual purpose, organizers say. Through a voter registration drive, they hope to persuade more Muslims to become involved in local elections. In addition, they hope to show the candidates that "we're here, we care, and we do vote," said Shirin Elkoshairi, a spokesman for the Sterling-based All Dulles Area Muslim Society, which has more than 5,000 members.
"[The turnout] definitely shows that candidates feel that Muslims are voting and are a force at the polls," Elkoshairi said.
There are about 64,000 Muslims registered to vote in Virginia, with the vast majority of them in the outskirts of Washington, said Mukit Hossain, president of the Virginia Muslim Political Action Committee, which tracks trends and endorses candidates in many local elections.