First Published: 2011-06-20


How the Republican Party Left Me


Was I correct in leaving the Republican Party as an American Muslim? The Republican Party has decided that demonizing Islam and Muslims is good politics. Never mind that American Muslims are some of the most successful Americans around, notes Hesham Hassaballa.


Middle East Online

Ever since I was old enough, I voted in almost every election. In many of those elections I voted Republican. In fact, I became involved in local Republican politics, being a Committeeman and assistant Committeeman for my local township Republican party. I felt truly at home in the Republican party, with its emphasis on conservative social values and limited government intrusion intopersonal life. Even though I didn't vote for George W. Bush in 2004, I still remained loyal to the Republican party. It simply felt right.

That all changed in the 2008 Presidential election. The repeated smears among Republican and right wing circles, that Obama is somehow a stealth Muslim, was particularly distasteful to me. The repeated stoking of fear and hatred against American Muslims for cynical political gain, and the failure of Republican leadership to repudiate it solidified my resolve to leave the party. So in2010, I voted in my first primary election as a Democrat.

Now that the 2012 election season has begun to rev up, and the field of Republican candidates for President begins to come into clearer view, the question has entered my mind: Did I make the right decision? Was I correct in leaving the Republican Party as an American Muslim? Or was my decision too hasty, based on emotion rather than facts about where the Republicans stand?

And my answer is: Absolutely not, leaving the Republican Party was exactly the right thing to do.

Let's take the myriad of bills in more than a dozen states -- all proposed by Republicans-- that seek to criminalize or ban "Sharia law." It was a solution looking for a problem. There is no risk at all of Sharia law ever being used in American courts. Still, several Republican legislators felt it necessary to introduce bills to prevent such an eventuality. Some of these bills actually seemed to criminalize being a Muslim. Yet, there was no call from the National Republican leadership to decry such blatant anti-Muslim fear mongering.

Then there are the Republican candidates for President. Newt Gingrich has repeatedly mentioned the "dangers" of Sharia law for the United States. His evidence, however, is sorely lacking. Herman Cain has said that he would be "uncomfortable" with a Muslim in his cabinet or as a federal judge. He even called for "loyalty tests" for Muslims -- and only Muslims --who wanted to serve in his hypothetical Administration. Again, I’ve heard no repudiation from any of the national Republican leadership, although, to his credit, Mitt Romney refused to attack Muslims for political gain. Yet, his voice, it seems, is a very lone one indeed.

Peter King, Congressman from NY who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, seems to be "obsessed" with Muslims. He has held two hearings now about the "radicalization of American Muslims" and its threat to the security of the homeland. Now, there have been a few Muslims in America who have been radicalized and have attempted to commit acts of terrorism, but they are a minuscule number and they are not representative of the millions of good citizens in the American Muslim community, which studies have shown is patriotic, mainstream, and deeply loyal to the United States. But King's hearings seem to blame -- and he has said as much -- that the American Muslim community is somehow complicit in the acts of the tiny number of criminals who act in its name.

Once again, the response from the Republican leadership: a deafening silence.

All in all, it seems that the Republican Party has decided that demonizing Islam and Muslims is good politics. Never mind that American Muslims are some of the most successful Americans around. Never mind that American Muslims are just the sort of people who would be a good ally of the Republican Party. Never mind that American Muslims are an important part of the fabric of our country, and marginalizing them -- as with any other minority -- can only hurt the country going forward. No. It seems that the Republican Party does not want any Muslims in its ranks, and it is quite content with that.

Well, I am so very glad I left, and I haven't missed the Republican Party for a moment since.

Hesham A. Hassaballa is a Chicago-based doctor and writer. His latest book is Noble Brother: The Story of the Last Prophet in Poetry (Faithful Word Press).

Copyright© 2011 Hesham A. Hassaballa -- distributed by Agence Global


Tunisia under state of emergency

Turkey downs Russia Su-24 fighter jet on Syria border

Lavrov says no war with Turkey after 'planned provocation'

Brussels extends terror alert as US issues worldwide travel warning

Somali pirates seize Iran fishing boat with 15 crew

Missing Iranian diplomat found dead in Saudi

Heavy Russia raids at site of Syria plane crash

Tunisia declares state of emergency after terrorist attack in heart of capital

Bahrain calls HRW torture report 'misleading'

Syria, Russia foreign ministers set Moscow talks

Rival Libya tribes sign peace deal to end months of fighting

Turkey reveals new cabinet of Erdogan allies

Hopes fade away as Sudan peace talks break without deal

At least 6 dead in Libya bomb attack

ISIS suicide bombers kill four in assault on Sinai hotel

Kerry visits Israel with scant hopes for major breakthrough

Hollande heads to Washington to seek support for war on ISIS

UAE blames Islamists for delay in military operation in Taez

Egypt kills 5 Sudanese migrants near border with Israel

Anti-Muslim hate crimes rise 300 percent in Britain

Russia eases restrictions on nuclear cooperation with Iran

Gulf leaders to hold annual summit on December 10

Ex-Gathafi Minister arrested over murder of UK policewoman

UK boosts military spending as pressure grows to join anti-ISIS strikes

Israel bars Palestinians from West Bank settlement bloc

Iraq suspends northern flights due to danger posed by Russia missiles

Syria army advances against ISIS in central province of Homs

Pro-Kurdish leader escapes assassination attempt in Turkey

Tunisia group claims beheading of young shepherd on behalf of ISIS

Kerry arrives in Abu Dhabi for Syria discussions

Three Palestinians killed as fresh violence hits West Bank

Iran arrests ISIS-linked cell near Iraq border

Brussels remains on high alert for second day in a row

Israel seeks to strip citizenship of those who join ISIS

France warns Libya as ISIS gains ground

Fear escalates as ISIS edges closer to Syria Christian town

Iran sentences reporter Jason Rezaian to prison

Egyptians vote in second phase of parliamentary elections

Assad grateful to Russia as army advances on ‘nearly every front’

Obama calls for resolve in face of terrorist threats

Russia bombs ISIS in heaviest strikes since beginning of Syria war

ISIS claims deadly attack on Iraq Shiite mosque

Iran Revolutionary Guard simulate capture of Al-Aqsa Mosque

Turkey-backed Syria rebels seize two border villages from ISIS

Israel shuts down second Palestinian radio station