In Arizona, A U.S. Senate Candidate Is Getting Harassed For Her Faith

A Muslim candidate running for a U.S. Senate seat in Arizona found herself facing an ugly reality since announcing her candidacy: Islamophobic attacks on social media.

Deedra Abboud, a Democrat who would challenge U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) if she wins a primary next year, is reportedly the first Muslim running for high office in Arizona.

A few days ago, Abboud took to Facebook to comment on church-state separation and to outline some of her other positions.  

“Almost 250 years ago a group of dreamers came together and sketched out a revolutionary vision,” Abboud wrote. “No longer would they be shackled to the whims of a distant government, nor bound to the religion of an idiosyncratic king. They set out to forge their own futures, determine their own destinies, and follow their own faith. In their infinite wisdom, the Founding Fathers decreed that this nation would separate church and state, and in doing so protect both institutions. Government would be free from religious overreach, and religion would be free from government interference.”

This would seem a fairly non-controversial endorsement of ideals espoused by the Founding Fathers, but it sparked a hateful reaction from some people. Many responded by insulting and attacking Abboud for being a Muslim.  

Nobody should be harrassed because of their religion. 

One commenter wrote: “Hijab is a symbol of the oppression of women, something abhorrent to liberals, what sort of mental gymnastics are necessary to make that all work in your ‘progressive’ ideology?”

Another declared, “Converting to the religion that is the root cause of the war destruction and deaths of millions for the Last 1500 years was the first dumbest thing you did, whatever justifications you have will not be enough for you in the future when you will have nothing but regret. And there won’t be nothing you can do to redeem this mistake. Good luck with the election that you have failed already.”

To add to the ignorance, other comments ranged from “Go back to your country, do not come to America and expect True Americans will fall for your bull****” (because nothing is more American than measuring someone’s nationality with religion, right?) and “Get with the times and get rid of the rag on ur head. Adapt or G’bye.” These are just a sample of the types of comments Abboud received – many were too vulgar to reprint.

These instances are disappointing to see. Nobody should be harassed over his or her religious beliefs. Thankfully, people are standing against the hateful rhetoric and sticking up for Abboud. This includes her possible opponent, Flake.

“Hang in there @deedra2018. Sorry you have to put up with this. Lots of wonderful people across AZ. You'll find them,” Flake tweeted on July 18 after the comments on the post went viral.

Hearing about the harassment Abboud received reminded me of a Facebook Live session Americans United did with the Bridge Initiative’s Kristin Garrity Şekerci. In it, Şekerci noted various ways people can become a good ally to the Muslim community and emphasized education as an important aspect of combating Islamophobia. Indeed, choosing education over ignorance may decrease the hateful rhetoric around the country.

With anti-Muslim rhetoric and hate groups increasing during the President Donald J. Trump era and the U.S. Supreme Court set to hear the Muslim ban case in October, AU will continue fighting religious discrimination in all of its guises.