Meet the Man Who Could Be Americas First Muslim Governor

Donald Trump has truly been an inspiration.

On the vile side, were seeing a spike in white supremacist activities on college campuses and white supremacist deadly terror attacks, as recently documented by the Anti-Defamation League. Trump has inspired these Americans by retweeting visible white supremacists, defending white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville as fine people, and now championing the white supremacists long held dream of ending family unification of immigrants, which they call chain migration.

But on the side of the best of America, Trump has inspired people who oppose his bigotry, racism, and sexism to run for office. There are a record number of women running in 2018, including Rachel Crooks, who courageously told the story of how Trump sexually assaulted her. There are countless people of color and of varying immigration statuses running this year. And add to that I have never seen more Muslim Americans seeking office on all levels, from City Council, like Liliana Bakhtiari in Atlanta, to people running for Congress, such as Fayrouz Saad, a former Obama administration official from Michigan, and former Michigan state representativeRashida Tlaib,who just announced her candidacy to replace former representative John Conyers.

The one candidate in this group who has truly captured the medias attention is another Michigander: Abdul El-Sayed, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor. If elected, the 33-year-old El-Sayed would be the first Muslim American ever elected as governor and the youngest governor since a 32-year-old Bill Clinton was elected in Arkansas back in 1978.

Theres a reason why former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau tweeted a video about El-Sayed with the words: Reminds me of someone I used to work for.

However, El-Sayeds faith and age are the least of the reasons to support him. I spoke at length to El-Sayed both as a guest on my SiriusXM radio show and in person. Simply put, this guy is the real deal.Hes not only charismatic, hes well versed in the nuances of policy on issues from job creation to education to especially healthcare, given hes a medical doctor who previously headed Detroits health department.

Theres a reason why former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau tweeted a video about El-Sayed with the words: Reminds me of someone I used to work for. But as El-Sayed commented about the comparison, I love Obamabut Im not him. Hes right. In fact, on policy issues, El-Sayed is much more of a younger, brown Muslim version of Bernie Sanders. And its no coincidence that some former Sanders campaign people have joined El-Sayeds campaign.

But theres something else that makes you root for him. The Michigan born El-Sayed is a living example of the American dream. Hes the son of Egyptian immigrants. He was captain of the high school football team and played lacrosse at University of Michigan. He then went on to win a Rhodes scholarship and earned a medical degree from Columbia University.

El-Sayed is currently locked in a two-person race with Gretchen Whitmer, a former State Senate minority leader backed by the Democratic establishment. But the excitement is on El-Sayeds side as friends in Michigan have made clear. Thats likely why there was a recent anonymous attack on El-Sayeds eligibility based on the state constitutions requirement that gubernatorial candidates be registered as a Michigan voter for the four prior years to running. While El-Sayed was born and raised in Michigan, he did attend Columbia medical school in New York from 2012-2015 and then returned to Michigan in 2016. El-Sayeds campaign, however, is confident it will prevail on this attackwhich they view as akin to birthersimsince he was still a registered voter in Michigan at all times.

Even in a state like Michigan, where theres a sizable Arab American and Muslim population, a guy named Abdul El-Sayed has seen challenges. He explained that after 9/11 he was subjected to taunts like Go back to your country! and others calling him raghead. And just last year, a Michigan mosque was burned down in a case of arson.

However, the response to that fire was that people in the community of all faiths donated over $30,000 to rebuild the mosque. Thats the real Michigan to El-Sayed, who explained, Michiganders dont care how you pray, but what you pray for. He added, I pray for my family, my state, my country and for Michigan football. I know a lot of Michiganders pray for the same things.

On the issues, El-Sayed is championing not only a bold, progressive agenda but one specific to Michigan. When I travel Michigan, I hear from people of all backgrounds that they feel locked out of the economy, he explained. El-Sayed contrasted that with where the Democrats went wrong in the 2016 campaign that saw Trump take Michigan: The Democratic establishment told Michiganders in 2016 that the economy was backwell, it wasnt.

El-Sayed passionately explained the need for a single payer healthcare system which would help both Michiganders and attract businesses. As a doctor, I had to share with people diagnoses of life-threatening conditions yet for some people their worst day wasnt when they heard the diagnoses but trying to figure out how to pay their medical bills without bankrupting their family, said El-Sayed.

El-Sayed shared how GM moved a factory from Michigan to Canada because it could save money on providing healthcare because that was already afforded to the citizens of Canada. For those reasons, he wants to start a Michigan-run healthcare system that provides healthcare and would attract new businesses to set up shop there.

El-Sayed has been traveling Michigan for much of last year and will continue on a daily basis from now until the Aug. 7 primary. When we expect 50 people we have had 150 show up at events, he explained about the support hes received, and more than half of the people at the events sign up to volunteer for the campaign. If things keep building we just may see El-Sayed follow in the footsteps of Bernie Sanders and pull off a Democratic primary win in Michigan. And if Michiganders ultimately elect El-Sayed as governor, that would be the perfect middle finger to Trump.

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Quebec passes law banning facial coverings in public

The Canadian province is barring public workers from wearing the niqab or burqa and obliging citizens to unveil while using public transit or government services

The Canadian province of Quebec has passed a sweeping ban on face coverings barring public workers from wearing the niqab or burqa and obliging citizens to unveil when riding public transit or receiving government services ushering in a law believed to be the first of its kind in North America.

The legislation was adopted on Wednesday, capping off two years of work by the provinces Liberal government to address the issue of state neutrality. The resulting law has been condemned by critics who say it deliberately targets Muslim women and will fuel the provinces simmering debate on identity, religion and tolerance.

Philippe Couillard, the premier of Quebec, was defensive as he addressed the new law. We are just saying that for reasons linked to communication, identification and safety, public services should be given and received with an open face, he told reporters. We are in a free and democratic society. You speak to me, I should see your face, and you should see mine. Its as simple as that.

The law was originally meant to ban face coverings for those offering or receiving services from government departments and provincially funded institutions, such as universities.

In August, the legislation was extended to apply to municipalities, school boards, public health services and transit authorities, raising the possibility that women wearing a niqab or burqa in Quebec would not be able to take the metro or ride the city bus. As long as the service is being rendered, the face should be uncovered, Stphanie Valle, Quebecs justice minister, said when asked.

The legislation stipulates that exemptions can be made for those who provide spiritual care or religious instruction, as well as those who are forced to cover their faces due to working conditions or occupational hazards.

Amid widespread confusion as to how the new law would be applied and who it would affect, Valle said the province would now work with municipalities, schools and public daycares to establish clear guidelines.

The Liberal government has long argued that the legislation which does not specifically mention the niqab or burqa addresses public safety, noting that it would also apply to masked protesters.

We are not legislating on clothing, Valle said last year. Public services have to be offered and received with the face uncovered for security, identification and communication purposes.

Others citing a 2016 survey that suggested that just 3% of Muslim women in Canada wear the niqab have accused the provincial government of targeting Muslim women in order to curry votes in the run-up to next years provincial election.

It seems like a made-up solution to an invented problem, said Ihsaan Gardee of the National Council of Canadian Muslims. We dont have a big issue right now with hordes of Muslim women in niqab trying to work in the public service or accessing public services with difficulty.

The law comes after two attempts by authorities in Quebec to legislate secularism in the public domain in recent years. A 2010 attempt by the Liberals died on the order paper after two years; a bill by the previous separatist government that sought to ban teachers, doctors and other public workers from wearing highly visible religious symbols failed to pass before an election was called.

On Wednesday the Liberals flexed their majority in the provincial government to pass the legislation, fending off calls from the provinces two main opposition parties to put in place tougher laws to address the issue of secularism and religious accommodation.

I know people would have liked us to go further, Valle told the provinces national assembly. Others think we are going too far. I think a balance has been found.

Many have voiced concerns that the new law targets a segment of the population that is already marginalised and stigmatised. We cant divorce this bill from the larger context in which it falls, said Gardee. According to Statistics Canada, hate crimes targeting Canadian Muslims increased from 2012 to 2015 by 253%.

Earlier this year, the province was left reeling after six men all of them fathers were shot dead as they prayed at a mosque in Quebec City. During the eulogy for the men killed, Imam Hassan Guillet drew a direct line between their murders and the political climate facing Muslims in Canada.

Unfortunately, day after day, week after week, month after month, certain politicians, and certain reporters and certain media, poisoned our atmosphere, he said.

While Quebec politicians said the ban on receiving services while wearing a face covering would enter into effect immediately, implementation of the law is likely to be hindered by the many questions that remain. We dont know how this is going to be applied and how it will be enforced, said Gardee. Its deeply troubling.

The legislation does note that those affected by the law can put in a request for accommodation, but little explanation is given to the criteria or how exactly it would work. The government said it would use the coming months to better outline how these requests should be treated as well as develop guidelines for those working in the public sector.

Legal observers said they expect several advocacy groups to challenge the new law in courts, pitting it against the countrys Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as the provincial equivalent.

Gardee said it was an option his organisation would likely be considering in the coming days. We are of that opinion that the state has no business in the wardrobe of the nations, he said. The state should not be coercing women to undress or dress in any particular fashion.

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