© Dr. Jill Biden
Last Sunday, Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, gave a moving speech via Zoom. The occasion for Dr. Biden’s talk was Eid Al-Fitr, the celebration of the end of Ramadan. But its purpose was to rally support for Vice President Biden’s run against Donald Trump. About 250 politically active Muslims from across the nation participated, including a number from Wisconsin.
“In my 20 years of living in this country, this was the first time that a presidential campaign organized a call like this,” said City of Madison Alder Samba Baldeh, who will also be on the ballot in November. Baldeh, currently in his third term as Madison alder, is running for State Assembly from the 48th district.
In her talk, Dr. Biden emphasized what she called “the gift of Ramadan,” that in “our moments of weakness, we see how much we need our faith.” Ramadan, she said, is about “vulnerability, brokenness, connection, and the chance to lift up those who need it most.” America needs that “spiritual connection” more than ever, Dr. Biden said, because despite “contributing so much to our nation, Muslim communities continue to face discrimination, bigotry, and xenophobia. Muslim Americans are too often seen as suspicious or foreign.”
Madison businessman Jerreh Kujabi
Madison businessman Jerreh Kujabi said the call was a “breath of fresh air,” especially because of the current climate in Washington. “I am black and Muslim, and I am an immigrant,” said Kujabi. “Those groups feel like we are under siege. Even if it is a gesture, [the call] is recognition of the fact that [we] all matter.”
Biden quoted verses from the Qu’ran in her speech, Kujabi said, emphasizing that, “We are human beings first. We should treat each other with respect and dignity. . . . Whatever challenges we face, we face them together.”
Emgage Florida Chapter executive director Vetnah “Yemen” Monessar said, “Muslims in America are one of the most diverse communities, representing every race, ethnicity, and we’ve been weaving our contributions into the fabric of America for generations. It is my hope that we can come together in 2020 to help mobilize the Muslim vote across the country.” Monessar added, “I implore you to please help in this effort by mobilizing and educating voters in your local communities, advocating for issues that are important to us and standing side by side with Joe Biden so that we can defeat Trump in 2020.”
As Alder Baldeh said, “Donald Trump has done things that I’m sure you never thought an American president will do, or even an American will do. [We] cannot go on television and say we can stand on Fifth Avenue and kill somebody and nothing happens. No other American president can insult other countries and get away with it. [Trump] is basically a very dangerous guy.”
For those who are not yet engaged, it is not too late to call on the spirit of Ramadan and find the motivation to make a difference. “This unique Ramadan has given us unprecedented permission to reset our intentions and goals, to reflect on and reimagine our practices, our systems, the ways we connect, who we value and why,” said Kameelah Mu’Min Rashad, founder and president of the Muslim Wellness Foundation. “Some may wonder, how might this even be possible in the midst of a global pandemic? But I would say this is evident in our community, how we’ve rallied to serve in a responsible, socially distant but spiritually connected way.”