Muslimah could make history as first elected official in Brazoria County history

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.

Hilal Alquds

 

  • Khalid Dakak
  • Mohammad Ali Ata Obeid
  • Danial Soudah
  • Issa Hilweh
  • Hani Abdallah
  • Oday Dabbagh
  • Mousa Farawi
  • Ahmed Kashour
  • Charlie Abdallah
  • Muhye Aldeen Abuseneineh
  • Eizeldeen Abuseneineh
  • Fuad Abuseneineh
  • Farouk Taha
  • Mohammad Alhajeh

Remember these names. Learn them. Know them well. These are “our boys”. Reaching for a once in a lifetime opportunity to compete in the Disney Cup International representing Palestine.

Narmeen Dakak and her family are working tirelessly to ensure these boys make it here and acquire the necessary funds to compete in this tournament. Here’s what she had to say:

“On my family’s trip to Florida last summer, my dad noticed that the Disney Cup International was a international soccer competition that occurs during the summer. It was obvious how amazing of an opportunity this would be for our Palestinian youth team, Hilal Alquds. A group of people worked tirelessly for months to make sure that the group of young boys would have an opportunity to play in the Disney Cup International. After endless hours of planning and work, finally they are confirmed to be able to make the trip. This trip will be an opportunity of a lifetime for our boys. Not only will there be college scouts present at the games, but this will be the first time these boys visit America, let alone Disney, and the first time that a Palestinian youth soccer team participates in an international soccer event.

We are so close to reaching our goal, and words cannot describe how much this not only means to me, but to the boys as well.”

If you would like to play a role in brining these boys and helping them compete, click here.

To find our more about the Disney Cup International, click here.

GOP Candidates Welcomed by Protesters

On February 25, while GOP candidates prepare for their final debate, protesters from numerous minority activist groups in Houston and surrounding cities united to take a stand against bigotry and racism.

Latino migrants, Muslims, low-wage workers, the LGBT community, and more used this opportunity as their platform to rally local Houstonians and call on Trump and other Republican candidates to stop the division that they are trying to create amongst the community.

Houston, being one of the most diverse cities in the country, proved that hate speech is not welcome. Together, the protesters stood strong calling to action the need to elect a candidate who will be the voice for all and to promote tolerance amongst all minorities.

They marched forward, getting as close as they could to the theatre where the debate was held, chanting, “the people united will never be divided!” With the eyes of the nation upon them, they stood in cohesion yelling loud, “We ain’t goin’ nowhere!”

Executive Order 9066 and Why Muslim-Americans Should Vote

From the comfort of our school desks, we learned about the intensity and crucial historical moments of World War II. However, what was often glossed over in our US History classes was the internment of Japanese- Americans beginning February 19, 1942.

Today marks the 74th anniversary since President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which authorized the removal and confinement of all Japanese-Americans forcing some 110,000 families into relocation camps. These “relocation campus” might very well be paralleled to concentration camps, tarnishing the image of the free world and leaving a stain of intolerance and racism. Even those who weren’t necessarily Japanese but of Asian descent faced the same kind of scrutiny based on their appearance.   

It would bring great comfort in knowing such an appalling and trying time in history would never be repeated, but Muslim-Americans face a similar threat if presidential candidate Donald Trump continues with his rhetoric unabated. However, we have the ability to change the political climate by voting and establishing a political presence.

Your vote is your voice. Simple. We are a democracy and we have strength in numbers. This stems from our right to vote and elect a president who will unify the nation and evade any pressure founded on fear to divide the country based on race and religious differences. Confronting the past will honor the present. Let’s make sure this never happens again.

By choosing not to vote you are pledging consent to the current climate against Muslims and other minority groups that Republican candidates have set out to create. Being part of the conversation will help prevent future politicians from targeting any minority that lives in this country because we will no longer be silenced and we will be voting.

March 1 is the Texas primary election day. Follow this link to learn about early voting for the primaries in Texas and be sure to check out a sample ballot if it’s your first time voting!

If you’re in Harris County click here

Islamophobia In Toronto?

Toronto is known to be one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world. Rich with multicultural food and art, this Canadian city also holds the title for having the most tolerant people in North America. Not to mention they take the cake in hosting the largest LGBT festival in the world. Most recently, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau set an example of how world leaders should react to the refugee crisis by exhibiting phenomenal hospitality in welcoming Syrian refugees to Canada. Torontonians hold more university degrees than anyone else, proving the logic that more education leads to more tolerance and acceptance of those from different ethnic backgrounds. With all these accolades, what could ever go wrong in such an amiable city?

Shockingly: Islamophobia. It’s a fear that spreads across countries and communities. No corner remains untouched. There have been a number of hate crimes reported across Canada, with at least six reported anti-Muslim incidents after the Paris attacks in November of 2015.

While in Toronto, I too spent most of my stay admiring such a dynamic city. I was in awe of the community Torontonians had built. However, that changed all too soon.

While walking back from a local grocery store with my two siblings, groceries in hand, a man started walking toward us. He gave my sister a glare in hopes of intimidating her. As soon as he came face to face with my sister he said, “Whatchu got under there?” My sister, not really understanding what he was referring to, kept walking.

My brother however, looked at him and responded, “Don’t worry about it”. But the man persisted: “Yes I am gonna worry about it, you got something’ to say?” and then he began charging towards my brother. My brother, not giving it a second thought, dropped the groceries, put his MMA training to use and kicked him hard right in the gut in an attempt to protect us.

The man jumped back and took a fighting stance. In an attempt to shield my brother from what was to come, I got in between them and implored my brother to just walk away. But I knew, as did my brother, that there was no turning back now. Before the man could get close enough to swing at my brother, security from the nearby stadium came rushing out. One of them held the man back away from us and the other apologetically helped pick up our groceries, while continuously apologizing for the man’s behavior.

We went on our way, in complete silence and utter shock in the events that played out. We never thought we would encounter such treatment in a city as accepting as Toronto. All I could think about was: what would have happened had my brother not stepped in to protect us? Would we have been able to protect ourselves against such aggression and bigotry?

If this experience taught me one thing, it is this: self-defense classes are crucial, now more than ever, especially for Muslim women who are often identifiable targets. You never really know when you might be placed in a situation where you have to protect yourself. And even in places where you might feel safe, Islamophobia will rear its ugly head. There is no shame in empowering each other to learn not to rely on the protection of others. After such an encounter, this has motivated me greatly to take action within my own community and educate those around me of the importance of knowing physically how to counteract such situations.
I have never been the type of person to rely on someone else to defend and protect me in such situations, and I don’t intend on becoming that person now. Teach your sisters, mothers and daughters to be independent and not wait for someone else to step in and come to their aid, there might come a time when no one will be there.