WASHINGTON, DC — At a debate for Virginia’s Democratic primary for lieutenant governor on Tuesday, moderator and WJLA anchor Dave Lucas asked Del. Sam Rasoul an anti-Muslim question. During the debate, Lucas brought up donations Rasoul received from Muslim advocacy groups and asked him to “assure Virginians if you’re elected, you’ll represent all of them, regardless of faith or beliefs?” No similar question about donors or faith was asked of any of the other candidates. Rasoul is the first Muslim elected to Virginia’s legislature and, if elected, would be only the second Muslim ever elected to any statewide office in the U.S. As documented on page 11 of the Muslim Advocates report Running on Hate, all four of Virginia’s statewide elections in 2017 and 2018 were plagued with anti-Muslim rhetoric and statements and all of the candidates who used this rhetoric lost. The following is a statement from Muslim Advocates Public Advocacy Director Scott Simpson:
“The way Delegate Rasoul was singled out as a Muslim and had his loyalty questioned is shameful. Virginia’s recent elections have been rife with anti-Muslim bigotry. Suggesting that Muslims are disloyal, foreign and have values that are contrary to the Constitution are false, harmful, anti-Muslim tropes. It’s insulting to Virginian and American values for a debate moderator to inject this type of bigotry into a televised debate.
Del. Rasoul has been serving in the Virginia House of Delegates and representing all Virginians in his district, regardless of faith, for more than six years now. By questioning his loyalty, Lucas, whether he knew it or not, was invoking a deeply-ingrained, anti-Muslim trope pushed by hate groups for years. Sadly, this is a common occurrence for American Muslims in public life. As our report Running on Hate exposed, American Muslims running for office regularly face anti-Muslim attacks. The biased question Lucas asked Rasoul reinforces harmful, false stereotypes and prevents American Muslims from participating in public life. WJLA’s Dave Lucas owes Del. Rasoul and Virginia’s voters an apology.”
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Muslim Advocates is a national civil rights organization working in the courts, in the halls of power and in communities to halt bigotry in its tracks. We ensure that American Muslims have a seat at the table with expert representation so that all Americans may live free from hate and discrimination.