I was recently having a conversation with a Muslim-American friend about the upcoming election and how most of the members of her community are voting for Obama. My friend’s family, like many other Muslim families, voted Republican before 9/11 and before Islam became a dirty word in politics that it seems politicians need to apologize for. Like many Muslims, her father espouses most of the Republican values, but has stopped voting Republican, and has lost some of his motivation to vote all together, because he feels the Republican Party does not want his vote.

There are 4 million Muslims in America, a significant voting block, yet politicians, both Democrat and Republican, have tried to place themselves as far away as possible from this demographic. Obama has had to convince people of his standing as a Christian as a result of his Indonesian upbringing and Muslim middle name. Why does Christian=American? Why can’t Obama have Muslim roots and still be equally as patriotic and American?

The following article interviews various New York City Muslims about the election, and most have the same question: how did their faith become a word that politicians want to distance themselves from? How has the word “Muslim” become a slur? People expect moderate Muslims to apologize for the extremist factions of their faith; Muslim-Americans are expected to constantly be on the defense. It seems the only time Islam is mentioned in the media these days is in relation to terrorism or an extremist regime. Christianity has its own share of violence attributed to its name, yet Christians are not expected to apologize for the things done in the name of their faith. Both Democrats and Republicans in this election are guilty of making Islam a dirty word, something to flee from rather than a block of 4 million voters to talk to.

-Liza Butler-