There was a time when Alabas Farhat, a Democratic representative from Michigan, would have eagerly seized the chance to participate in a “meet and greet” with President Joe Biden. However, that time has passed, and Farhat, along with Arab Muslim community leaders in the greater Detroit area, declined the invitation. Their decision was rooted in dissatisfaction with President Biden’s stance on the Israel-Hamas conflict and his opposition to a ceasefire.
Representative Farhat expressed a sense of betrayal, emphasising that many in the community had supported Biden’s election as a more humane alternative to Trump. He recounted how individuals from the community had campaigned vigorously for Biden, even going as far as writing his name on their birthday cakes when he won. Now, however, the Democratic community finds itself divided, with campaigns urging locals to vote “uncommitted” in the upcoming Democratic primaries, using the hashtag “#genocidejoe.”
This internal Democratic strife presents a significant challenge to President Biden’s prospects of re-election, particularly in crucial swing states like Michigan, where the November poll is likely to be decided by small margins. A Bloomberg News and Morning Consult survey indicated that, in key swing states, Donald Trump was ahead of Biden by 48% to 42%, with Michigan showing a 47% to 42% advantage for Trump.
The discontent within the Arab American and Muslim populations in Michigan is particularly notable. Michigan boasts one of the largest Arab American and Muslim populations in the United States, numbering around 300,000. In the previous election, Biden won the state by 154,000 votes. The sentiment against Biden extends to places like the Islamic Centre of Detroit, where Imam Imran Salha vehemently criticised him, stating that signing a ballot for Biden would be akin to using the blood of Palestinian relatives.
Although President Biden announced an executive order during his visit to Michigan, expanding sanctions against Israeli settlers in the West Bank, it falls short of addressing the concerns within the Muslim community. Calls for a ceasefire and stronger action persist.
For President Biden, the challenge lies not only in navigating the complexities of international politics but also in reconciling the internal divisions within his own party. As he seeks endorsements, such as the one from the United Auto Workers Union, in Michigan’s auto industry, he must carefully balance these considerations to secure the support he needs for his re-election bid.
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