Karen Hinks saw that Muslims were underrepresented in local politics in Orange County, CA and wanted to do something about it. Hinks’ organization “WELead OC” along with Rima Nashashibi, who is a former vice chair of the Democratic Party of Orange County, are launching this week an intensive Muslim candidate training program to educate aspiring politicians on fundraising, field operations, social media, messaging, communications, and volunteer recruitment.
“There are no Muslim women who have ever been elected to office [in Orange County],” states Ms. Hinks. “That then led us to approach the leadership of the mosques in Orange County to say, ‘We want to do a training with Muslim Americans — what do you think the interest is going to be?’ And they were all for the idea.”
According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), only one Muslim currently holds elected office in Orange County — Al Jabbar, a board member of the Anaheim Unified School District — out of an estimated 500,000 Muslims currently living in Southern California.
“The more Muslims we see in elected office, the more it boosts our community’s confidence, and it’s a great way to undermine those who are spreading hate and a racist agenda,” says Rashad al-Dabbagh, executive director of the Arab American Civic Council. “We love our allies and our partners in other communities, but if Muslims want to prosper and be seen as equals, they have to step up and make a difference themselves.”