Posted on January 22, 2024

Biden Brushes Off Declining Support Among Muslims and Arabs

Jihan Abdalla, The National, January 18, 2024

President Joe Biden on Thursday brushed off the drop in support among Muslim and Arab Americans due to US policy in the Israel-Gaza war, saying there is still time before the presidential election.

Before heading to North Carolina for a campaign event where he was due to speak about the economy, the Democratic President told reporters there is a “long way to go” before the November 5 elections.

He also said that his probable Republican opponent, former president Donald Trump, is expected to reintroduce a travel ban on Muslims and Arabs.

“The former president wants to put a ban on Arabs coming into the country,” Mr Biden said. “We’ll make sure that we understand who cares about the Arab population.”

Mr Trump was in office from 2017-2021 and ordered travel bans on nationals from several Muslim-majority states from entering the US. He has vowed to reimpose and even expand them if re-elected.

The bans sparked a severe backlash and challenges in courts. Mr Biden overturned them when he took office.

There has been intense anger among Muslim and Arab Americans over his response to Israel’s war on Gaza and his refusal to call for a ceasefire.

Muslim and Arab-American groups have been campaigning against Mr Biden, and communities across the US have vowed not to vote for him.

Muslims and Arabs account for a small portion of US voters, but they are concentrated in states that are critical for Mr Biden’s re-election bid.

They have also historically leaned towards the Democrats, and if they stay home, it could spell disaster for his campaign.

“Usually, the president wins an election because of his strong support for Israel,” Warren David, president of the Arab America organisation, told The National.

“This might be the first time a president loses an election because of it.”

The election will probably be decided by a handful of key states, including Michigan, home to a large Arab and Muslim population.

A poll conducted by the Detroit News and WDIV-TV found Mr Biden trailing Mr Trump by 8 percentage points in the state.

In 2020, Mr Biden won Michigan by 3 percentage points.

Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Georgia and Arizona are also must-wins for Mr Biden.

“If they don’t put a more concerted effort on Michigan, he might lose by double digits,” said Abed Ayoub, the national legal and policy director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

Mr Ayoub said that Michigan is also home to many supporters of the Palestinian cause.

“Those are people we grew up with, who support us,” he told The National. “If they think this is only a Palestinian or Arab issue, they’re missing the point.”

This month, protesters calling for a ceasefire in Gaza interrupted Mr Biden’s speech at a church that was the site of a 2015 white supremacist mass killing in South Carolina.