US presidential nominee and former vice president Joe Biden pledged on Monday to end the Trump administration’s “Muslim ban” and include voices from the community in his administration if he wins on November 3.
Mr Biden was speaking to the Muslim-American activist group Emgage, in the first address by a US Presidential nominee to a Muslim American organisation.
He told an audience of around 700 participants online, that he will end the “Muslim ban” on day one of his administration. Mr Trump announced the travel ban as a candidate in December 2015 and enforced it partially in an executive order in January, 2017.
The order bans nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen from entering the US. It also covers travellers from North Korea and certain government officials from Venezuela.
“If I become President, I will end the Muslim ban on Day one. Day one,” Mr Biden said. “I want to earn your vote, I want to work in partnership with you… to make sure your voices are included in our nation.”
The Democratic nominee tried to draw a sharp contrast with Mr Trump on issues relevant to the Muslim-American community such as rejecting Islamophobia and accepting a Palestinian state. “I’ll continue to champion the rights of Palestinians and Israelis to have a state of their own — as I have for decades. Each of them, a state of their own,” he said.
Calling Mr Trump “a poison”, Mr Biden asked Muslim-American voters to help in defeating him in November. Mr Biden described the Muslim-American community as integral to US success whether in fighting the pandemic, advancing social justices, serving in US military or helping the community.
“I will be a president that recognises and honors your contribution,” he said.
Mr Biden quoted the Islamic Hadith in advocating activism. “Whoever among you sees a wrong, then he should change it with his hand, if he is not able to, with his tongue, if he is not able to, with his heart.”
His participation is part of Emgage’s “Million Muslim Votes” Summit, aimed at galvanising different Muslim-American organisations to register one million votes before November.
According to Pew, there are an estimated 2.15 million adult Muslims in the country. Many live in swing states that would determine the outcome of the US election – holding a significant presence in states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Fewer than 80,000 votes in these states swung the election to Mr Trump against Hillary Clinton in 2016.
“Muslim American communities are organising like never before to maximize our voter turnout, and to ensure that our voices are represented,” Wael Al Zayat, CEO of Emgage Action said before the event. In a recent study, the Institute for Social Policy Understanding (ISPU) found 73 per cent of eligible adult Muslims were registered in 2019, up from 60 per cent in 2016.