With reports of increases in anti-Muslim rhetoric and harassment across the nation, one can imagine that running for political office as a Muslim in 2017 would be, as the Washington Post points out, “exceedingly stressful.” But that hasn’t discouraged Deedra Abboud, a Muslim-American democrat candidate running for U.S. Senate against Republican Sen. Jeff Flake in Arizona.
Earlier this week, the 45-year-old liberal lawyer received hateful comments online after she posted a tribute to the Founding Fathers, religious freedom and the separation of Church and State. “Now, I’m more on the radar. More people know that I’m out there,” comments Ms. Abboud who has a background in advocacy work as the founding director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Arizona chapter and has also worked as an immigration attorney.
According to Brian Levin, a hate-crimes expert at California State University at San Bernardino, spikes in hate crimes and hate incidents on social media has a direct correlation to some of the political rhetoric of late. “When political leaders are perceived to make intolerant statements with respect to Islam or pursue political policies that may appear intolerant, we see a correlation in hate crimes over the short term.”
But many local people from Arizona defended Ms. Abboud on social media, with one person urging her to “ignore the haters” and another saying, “Ignore the ignorance and hatred, Deedra. Arizona NEEDS you. You have my vote!” And even her political foe has joined in on the support. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) recently wrote on Twitter: “Hang in there @deedra2018… Sorry you have to put up with this. Lots of wonderful people across AZ. You’ll find them.”