DETROIT – Local Muslim leaders and Palestinian Christians gathered in downtown Detroit on Thursday afternoon, vowing to drive President Biden out of office for failing to support a ceasefire in Gaza that could save thousands of lives.
About 30 people, many holding signs that read “Abandon Biden”, stood outside the federal courthouse to pledge to make Biden a one-term president.
Mona Mawari, a Dearborn-based activist and community organizer who supported Biden in 2020, told the Detroit Metro Times she can no longer re-elect a president who did nothing to stop the slaughter of thousands of Palestinians.
“Our hope in Biden has turned to disappointment over the past 30 days,” Mawari said, referring to Israel’s military campaign in Gaza following the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas that killed some 1,400 people. “Biden has caused irreparable harm, and its become clear that a vote for Biden is a vote for genocide.”
Losing Muslim and Arab votes could harm Biden’s chances of winning in Michigan, a swing state that Donald Trump won in 2016. Biden won in Michigan by fewer than 150,000 votes, and some polls show Trump is ahead in Michigan.
Metro Detroit has the largest Muslim population per capita in the U.S.
Imran Salha, imam of the Islamic Center of Detroit, said the decision to vote against Biden is a moral one.
“Sleepy Joe is a murderer, and this is a genocide,” Salha said. “This is ethnic cleansing, and the blood is on his hands. It would have been more appropriate for him to stay asleep rather than bankroll this genocide against innocent civilians of Gaza.”
Asked by the Metro Times if he’s concerned that voting against Biden will result in a Republican president like Trump, who continues to espouse Islamophobic rhetoric and recently called for a more robust Muslim travel ban, Salha responded, “I don’t care.”
“It’s irrelevant to the discussion,” Salha said. “I do not think that anybody would be better. Our voices are not just something that we sign on a piece of paper. They’re an expression and an extension of our morality. I cannot sign off on somebody that bankrolled this genocide.”
Shaykh Mohamed Almasmari, the religious leader of the Unity Center mosque in Bloomfield Hills, said it’s his duty to ensure Biden isn’t reelected.
“As a Muslim imam, as a resident here in Michigan, we will do whatever it takes to make sure Biden will not be in office in the next election,” Almasmari said. “We will knock on the doors. We will do whatever it takes. We will recruit our youths. We will not allow someone who is power hungry, someone who has blood on his hands, someone who has given Israel the green light to bomb, to kill and to commit genocide.”
Huwaida Arraf, a Palestinian Christian and civil rights lawyer who previously served as a delegate for Democrats, was among those calling for Biden to be ousted.
“I grew up in a union household, my family always voting Democrat, me always voting Democrat because of what the party claimed to stand for,” Arraf told the Metro Times. “I wanted so much to believe in the promise of this country. And although I voted for Biden knowing that he was staunchly pro-Israel, part of his platform also promised to put human rights at the center of U.S. foreign policy. Putting human rights at the center of U.S. foreign policy means supporting a free Palestine.”
Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), urged Muslims not to vote for Biden in 2024.
“Unfortunately we were driven to this point to call on our community’s members to not vote for Biden in 2024,” Walid said. “The Muslim community was never thrilled about voting for Mr. Biden to begin with. The vote for Biden last time was really a vote against Donald Trump.”
New poll finds Arab American support for Biden plummeting
Support for President Biden among Arab Americans has plummeted in the wake of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to a new survey released by the non-partisan Arab American Institute.
The survey of 500 Arab Americans found a 42 percent decrease in those who say they approve of the president’s performance, a “shocking decline,” according to pollster James Zogby.
“The dissatisfaction with President Biden is really quite significant,” noted Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, which has been polling Arab Americans for more than three decades. “His numbers are dangerously low. More so than I have ever seen for a Democratic candidate.”
In Arizona, Trump picked up 49 percent support compared with Biden’s 44 percent, while in Georgia, Biden secured 43 percent compared with Trump’s 49 percent. Trump maintained a wide lead over Biden in Nevada with 52 percent to 41 percent.
Trump’s lead was smaller, but still notable in Michigan, with 48 percent support, while Biden secured 43 percent of the vote. In Pennsylvania, Trump garnered 48 percent while Biden had 44 percent.
Wisconsin, the sixth battleground state the poll surveyed, was the only state Biden maintained a slight lead in with a margin of 47 to 45 percent.