Muslim Hill Day Highlights the Growing Role of Arab American Women Superstars
Muslim Hill Day
A big push this year has been to put forward the voices of Arab American millennial women, highlighting the ongoing fallout of Donald Trump’s increasingly hostile attitude towards the two Muslim freshmen congresswomen elected in last year’s groundswell midterms. Other rising women stars hitting the pavement on the Hill today included Nada Al-Hanooti, the executive director of Emgage’s Michigan office, as well as Aisha Ahmed, another Emgage staffer.
The Gathering Storm
After years of facing tacit Islamophobia in the political system, Trump’s Muslim Ban has inspired a growing movement of Muslims to seek out both careers in advocacy as well as in politics. Last year in Maryland, yours truly helped coordinate efforts for over two dozen Muslim candidates to run in Maryland, and as we speak countless candidates are seeking a chance to represent their fellow citizens across the Potomac in Northern Virginia. Efforts to curtail Muslim candidates appeal by both political parties have begun to backfire in the wake of tragedies like the Christchurch massacre.
To be sure, Arab and Muslim American organizations have been quietly building capacity for over a decade. Efforts by the Arab American Institute, Emgage, CAIR, MPAC, and others have taken time to come together as Arabs and Muslims slowly woke up to the realization that without a voice in politics, their communities were exposed to increasing structural Islamophobia and anti-Arab bigotry.
That’s where women like Awad have come into play. Having worked for former presidential hopeful Martin O’Malley for the better part of a decade as a liaison with Middle Eastern communities, Awad’s rise to become the national legislative director for Emgage isn’t a fluke. Awad, like many of her colleagues, has years of policy and political experience that make them perfect ambassadors to Capitol Hill.
Leading the growing band of Muslims seeking to prove their worth and earn their salt as the voices of New America are women like Zaghari-Mask, Dasoo, Awad, Ahmed, and Al-Hanooti. Young, diverse and committed to realizing the American dream for their co-religionists and fellow Americans of immigrant heritage, these are the women to watch for an exciting new future for Arab & Muslim America. Insha’Allah.
Hamza Khan is a Democratic Strategist and former candidate for office from Maryland. Follow him on Twitter @HamzaSKhan.