By Saim Raza
Detroit- The Michigan Muslim Democratic Caucus (MMDC) met on February 23 during Michigan Democratic Partyâ€™s biannual convention. The boisterous affair featured a strongly contested election for party leadership. It was MMDCâ€™s third year at the convention as an official caucus, and featured a diverse crowd of party veterans and new citizens from a variety of ethnic backgrounds.
MMDC Board member Mitchell Shamsuddin, a longstanding activist and Detroit resident, began the meeting by sharing the experiences of African American community in the political process. He reminded the audience that the ability to vote and organize politically was only possible after a sustained struggle and many sacrifices. Zeid El-Kilani, an MMDC staff member and graduate student at the University of Michigan, emceed the event and also led a discussion of ways to increase Muslim participation in the political process to the 2012 election cycle. He identified some key state races where the Muslim community can have a major impact in 2014.
The MMDC had a successful election year effort in 2012, and many candidates endorsed came back to express their appreciation. Politicians such as State Rep. Rashida Tlaib, and U.S. Congressman Gary Peters both won difficult primaries and cruised to a victory in the general election. Both of these candidates were endorsed by the MMDC early in the election cycle. Dr Syed Taj who ran an unsuccessful congressional campaign talked about his lessons learned and remained optimistic for the future. The new Chair of the Michigan Democratic Party, Lon Johnson, also stopped by the caucus meeting to deliver a message of support for Michigan Muslims. He praised the work of the diverse group and asked for their help in the upcoming elections.
The MMDC has a busy schedule planned. Capitol Day, an event in which Muslim leaders and youth travel to Lansing and meet with elected officials, is planned for May in partnership with other organizations. A vigorous campaign to increase Muslim participation in local elections is also underway. The relatively young caucus has made huge strides in this field and is actively planning for more this year. If you would like to get involved, please visit www.mimuslimdems.com.