This Muslim-American woman is brave for running in a deeply red state, and even braver for not faltering in the face of hatred.
When visiting Democratic senatorial candidate Deedra Abboud’s website, you’ll see a long list of the work she’s done within her community to advocate for Muslim-Americans, migrants, and diversity dating back over two decades ago. Abboud is an attorney who practiced immigration and estate planning law for 5 years before deciding to return to advocacy work and make a run for U.S. Senate, which she just announced this past April. The one thing that many Arizona citizens have decided to fixate on, however, is the fact that Abboud is Muslim and, according to them, does not belong in this country let alone on the list of candidates.
Abboud is running for senator in Arizona and is looking to unseat current Republican senator Jeff Flake. In a recent post on Facebook, Abboud posted this inspiring caption:
“Almost 250 years ago a group of dreamers came together and sketched out a revolutionary vision. 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.”
The 45-year-old Arizonian woman converted to Islam when she was in her 20s, around the time that she married her husband, Ali Abboud, an entrepreneur and CEO of his family’s international companies. The pair married in 1999 and after the 9/11 attacks Abboud became active in her religious community by serving as director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Despite her efforts, she has received harsh comments on this Facebook post and others in regards to her religious affiliation. Read a few of the hateful comments below:
“Nice try but your first love is Satan (AKA Allah) and your second love is to a litter box your “people” come from. You are as American as Chinese checkers.” -S Jason Parr
“How about go fuck yourself. Towel headed piece of shit.” -Brian Zappa
“Freedom is I can wear a bikini amongst much more than u are allowed. Sad. Get with the times and get rid of the rag on ur head. Adapt or G’bye.” -Sherrene Barnard
“If you think she’s going to Washington you’re delusional lmao. Lets all wear scarves on our heads and pretend were all saviors too while we praise a religion of pure evil and hate.” -Josh Smith
These are just a few of the many horrible comments aimed at Abboud, all of which attack her religion and her right to wear a head scarf. In response to the hate, Abboud also received tons of warm and welcoming comments that praise her for her bravery and encourage her to continue her race against Senator Flake. One of these commenters wound up being Flake himself, who came to Abboud’s defense on Twitter.
— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) July 19, 2017
Flake’s comment reinforced what other people were saying, even about their own very red states, and it’s great that he also stepped in to affirm that not everyone is as hateful as those spreading these xenophobic messages. Despite Flake not having a progressive track record in his position first as a Republican representative in the House and now as a Senator, his words send a message to his own followers about what is acceptable. Abboud tweeted in response to Flake’s tweet as well.
— Deedra2018 (@deedra2018) July 19, 2017
Running for any position in public office as a Muslim right now is incredibly brave but equally necessary. Anti-Muslim hate crimes and sentiments are extremely high right now, possibly because of President Trump’s rhetoric and attempted policies against the religion. The fact that Abboud is running in a state that hasn’t elected a Democrat as a senator since 1988 makes her decision to run even more courageous; though most say that she has no chance of winning, just getting her name out there and encouraging other minorities to run for office is a step forward.