WASHINGTON, DC — Today, ten Muslim elected officials from Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia sent a letter to WJLA and the Democratic Party of Virginia urging reforms and training to address anti-Muslim bigotry following the anti-Muslim question asked of Delegate Sam Rasoul at the lieutenant governor debate they co-hosted. 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.
In the letter, the Muslim elected officials—all in the regions served by WJLA or the Democratic Party of Virginia—shared their deep dismay at the question and “subsequent refusals to adequately address your responsibility to serve all of your constituents and viewers, including Muslims.”
The letter explains the false, anti-Muslim trope brought up at the debate and urges both institutions to clarify how the question was raised, undergo training on anti-Muslim tropes and conspiracies, hold a listening session with area Muslims to educate themselves on issues facing the community, issue clear and unequivocal apologies to the communities and create systems that would not allow similar bigotry to be injected into future debates.
“Delegate Rasoul has dutifully served his constituents for eight years and we all have been duly elected by constituents of many faiths, races and backgrounds,” stated the letter. “We are shocked that your institutions would treat him with this level of disrespect and that you would hold such contempt for the region’s Muslim community.”
The letter was signed by the following elected Muslim officials:
Ibraheem Samirah, House Delegate (86th District)
Buta Biberaj, Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney
Abrar Omeish, Fairfax County School Board Member (At-Large)
Mo Seifeldein, Alexandria City Councilman
Naila Alam, Herndon Town Council Member
Raaheela Ahmed, Prince George’s County Board of Education Member (District 5)
Sabina Taj, former Howard County Board of Education Member (At-Large)
District of Columbia
Amir Irani, Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner (ANC 1C01, Chair of ANC 1C)
Rehana Mohammed, Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner (ANC 2F07, Chair of ANC 2F)
Sauleh Siddiqui, Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner (ANC 3C05)
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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.