The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee also vowed to advance hate crime legislation.
US Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden virtually addressed the “Million Muslim Votes Summit” on Monday, pledging Muslim representation in his administration and efforts to combat “an unconscionable rise in Islamophobia.”
Condemning “nearly four years of constant pressure and insults,” Biden pledged to “make sure your [Muslim] voices are included in the decision making process.”
Biden’s speech was the first time this electoral season, and perhaps ever, a US presidential candidate has directly addressed such a large group of Muslims.
Approximately 3,000 people registered for the live stream event, according to Emgage Action, a Muslim American advocacy group linked to Emgage PAC and host of the summit.
The former vice president was quick to condemn the Trump administration’s notorious travel ban: “If I have the honor of being president, I will end the Muslim ban on day one.”
Biden also pointed to the need to advance not only tolerance, but interfaith harmony through education and constructive dialogue.
“I wish we taught more in our schools about the Islamic faith,” he stressed. “What people don’t realize is … we all come from the same root here, in terms of our fundamental basic beliefs.”
In an era marked by Islamophobia and marginalization of Muslim American voices, Biden pledged to ensure representation in his administration. He also vowed to work with Congress to advance hate crime legislation.
A growing recognition of Muslim American voices
Although Senator Bernie Sanders earned Emgage’s support during the Democratic primaries, Emgage endorsed Biden as a general election candidate in April.
Several prominent Muslim American officials have since joined their voices to Emgage’s Biden endorsement.
Leaders including Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, Indiana Rep. Andre Carson, and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, among others, signed a pro-Biden letter that Emgage organized in the lead-up to the Million Muslim Votes Summit.
“Our number one goal is to remove Donald Trump from office and to replace him with someone who can begin to heal our nation,” the letter reads, as quoted by the Associated Press (AP).
“A Biden administration will move the nation forward on many of the issues we care about,” it continues, referencing timely topics such as immigration, racial justice, climate action, and the provision of social services.
Both Democratic and Republican politicians, particularly the latter, have been wary of directly courting Muslim Americans since the September 11 terror attacks. True to this trend, Biden declined an invitation to an Islamic Society of North America convention in 2019.
However, in a highly contentious and dynamic political climate, Muslim American voters — and Muslim American communities at large — are gaining increasing recognition for their value in both the American political system and socio-cultural fabric.
Emgage Foundation CEO Wa’el Alzayat stressed to AP that “a lot is at stake” in the November elections. “The importance of Muslim American voter participation this upcoming election cycle is greater than it has ever been.”
“Joe Biden’s presence serves not only to galvanize Muslim Americans to cast their ballot,” he said, but also “to usher in an era of engaging with Muslim American communities” post-Trump administration.