'Democrats will learn a lesson': Some Muslims work to defeat Biden in battleground states

Maya Rao, Star Tribune on

Published in Political News

Human rights Professor Hassan Abdel Salam has spent the past seven years teaching his students at the University of Minnesota about genocides around the world. On the last day of his class on global Islamophobia in April, he said he was quitting the classroom to oppose what he described as genocide in Gaza — by helping lead the "Abandon Biden" movement to defeat the president in November.

"It was very emotional," Abdel Salam said. "I just need to throw myself and put all my energy into this ... and I feel like huge change can happen."

Abdel Salam, 48, is among a group of Muslim activists, including several Minnesotans, who are organizing in nine swing states in opposition to Biden's reelection. The group's leaders say they want to politically punish the president for what they describe as enabling mass civilian casualties in Gaza.

They say they oppose Donald Trump, too, but are OK if their efforts help reelect the former president who once banned Muslims from the United States and threatens to do it again.

"By defeating (Biden), it would signal to the entire political landscape that defending genocide could lead to your defeat, so beware," Abdel Salam said. "That's my goal … promote the message throughout the nation and ensure it's a consistent one."

He said he and other Abandon Biden leaders are evaluating third-party candidates and plan to make an endorsement this summer. And if Trump wins because of their work, "the big gift that would come out of punishing the president is that an entire party ... becomes a pro-Palestinian party against the occupation and will begin to look for equity much more aggressively than we have in the past," Abdel Salam said.


A recent New York Times poll found that Trump led Biden with 57% support among Middle Eastern, North African and Muslim voters in battleground states.

Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, said the group's aims are unreasonable. "Nothing short of sacrificing Israel's right to self-defense will meet the goals of the Abandon Biden crowd," he said.

Abdel Salam and other Minnesota Muslims launched Abandon Biden after the president failed to meet their demand to call for a permanent cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas fighting by Oct. 31 as civilian casualties mounted in Gaza.

The Israeli military launched the war with Hamas after the Palestinian terrorist group attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and seizing 252 hostages — about half of them remain captive.


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