Pearland resident Dalia Kasseb is making history with her campaign for local office in the city of Pearland.
Kasseb, a Muslim and Egyptian-American, has taken her campaign for Pearland City Council position No. 7 to a June runoff after making a splash in the May 6 elections. Early voting begins May 30 and runs through June 2.
Kasseb was one of six candidates on the ballot. While she is a newcomer to local politics, Kasseb took home 40 percent of the vote in May. Her runner up, former councilman Woody Owens, took home 21 percent of the vote. Kasseb and Owens will face a final round of voting during the June 10 runoff.
The Pearland election is historic on several fronts. Kasseb, if elected, would be the first religious minority and woman of color elected to Pearland City Council. She would also be the first Muslim elected to public office in Brazoria County and one of the few ever elected in the state’s history.
Though election night reinvigorated Kasseb’s campaign and boosted her confidence, the campaign trail had its twists and turns as she was targeted on social media for being a Muslim and for wearing hijab.
“Stop this Muslim invasion. Crusades2017,” read one comment below a campaign post promoting Kasseb on Facebook.
“Not a chance in hell. Your religious beliefs preclude you from upholding the laws of our country. I have a copy of and have read the Quran. It does not support American democratic law and would replace it with Sharia law. Based on these facts, I cannot support your run for public office in Pearland,” another resident posted on Facebook.
“Never vote for anyone who covers themselves for their pig of a God,” yet another Facebook commenter said.
A Pearland Independent School District trustee, who lost his re-election bid this May, also seemingly made comments directed at Kasseb in a Facebook comment on his supporter’s page. Under a post of a magazine article entitled “How American Muslims are Trying to Take Back their Government,” DeBorde wrote, “Please spread the word – this is happening this election cycle right here in Pearland!”
Although DeBorde visited the Pearland Islamic Center, which is affiliated with the Islamic Society of Greater Houston, and made a public apology, his views are indicative of a deeply rooted suspicion of Muslims, especially those of Middle Eastern descent.
Throughout Kasseb’s campaign, she hasn’t shied away from her faith. And instead of shrinking away from the wave of hateful, bigoted remarks, she has pushed forward a message of inclusiveness. Kasseb continues to campaign on bringing diversity to city council as a woman of color, religious minority, health care practitioner and Millennial.
MuslimVox founding editor Dina Kesbeh and contributor, Nora Olabi, will sit down to speak with Kasseb about her experience entering public life as a Muslim woman in America, what it means to grow up as a Muslim-American and how Muslims can create change by getting involved in their communities.