Holly Otterbein for Politico
Former Vice President Joe Biden. | Matt Rourke, File/AP Photo
A group allied to Bernie Sanders is endorsing Joe Biden after the Vermont senator threw his weight behind the presumptive Democratic nominee this week.
Emgage, which calls itself the largest Muslim political action committee in the country, told POLITICO it is backing the former vice president because he supports ending President Donald Trump’s travel ban on several majority-Muslim countries, raising the refugee admissions cap, and reforming the immigration system, among other issues.
“Our nation, and indeed the world, are at a crossroad. Beyond the immediate devastation caused by COVID-19, we are facing an all-out assault against democratic principles and values at home and abroad that we have not seen since the rise of fascism and Nazisim early in the 20th century,” said Wa’el Alzayat, CEO of Emgage PAC. “Joe Biden is the type of leader who can restore America’s promise to its citizens, especially its most vulnerable, and to the world.”
In the primary, Sanders received the endorsements of numerous Muslim elected officials and groups, including Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, the first two Muslim women elected to Congress. Muslim leaders praised Sanders for his record of supporting Palestinian rights.
“I am honored to receive the endorsement of Emgage PAC,” said Biden in a statement. “From small business owners creating jobs to health care professionals on the front lines fighting COVID-19, Muslim-Americans contribute every day to the fabric and success of our nation. As president, I will stand up for Muslim communities across the country, immediately repeal Donald Trump’s Muslim ban, and embrace diversity as a core strength of our nation, not demonize it.”
Last summer, only two Democratic presidential candidates — Sanders and Julián Castro — attended a 2020 forum co-hosted by Emgage at the Islamic Society of North America’s annual convention. That and other moves left some Muslim leaders feeling that the contenders were all but ignoring them.
Turnout among Muslim voters went up 25 percentage points in the critical states of Ohio, Florida, Michigan and Virginia between 2014 and 2018, according to Emgage. The group has chapters and affiliates in 11 states.