CHICAGO: At one of the nation’s largest gatherings of Muslim Americans in Chicago on Saturday, leaders of the #AbandonBiden campaign said that the movement to block Joe Biden’s re-election due to his refusal to support a ceasefire to end the killing of civilians in Gaza was “growing quickly and will not turn back.”
The #AbandonBiden campaign press conference took place during the three-day annual convention hosted by the Muslim American Society and the Islamic Circle of North America at Chicago’s McCormick Convention Center. The convention attracts more than 25,000 attendees each year and addresses a range of issues including understanding Islam, improving health care and social services, and community activism.
Hassan Abdel Salam, co-leader of the #AbandonBiden movement from Minnesota, said that the goal was to “galvanize all voters of conscience” to “stand up” to Biden’s “betrayal.” He said 10 key swing states that Biden won in 2020 are the main targets but that the group was expanding to all 50 American state primaries to block a Biden re-election victory in the Nov. 4, 2024 presidential election.
“We come to you today, Muslim leaders from across the nation, united and focused on one message: Abandon Biden. How did we get here? After droves and droves of Arabs and Muslims in 2020 came to Biden’s side and made him president of the United States, we are betrayed,” Salam said, calling it an “American campaign of justice.”
He said: “We came here because of a betrayal by a president who claimed he was committed to the value of life, and justice and dignity, and then permitted and abetted genocides.”
Salam acknowledged that “abandoning Biden” could result in the return of former president Donald Trump, but said that Arab and Muslim Americans “have no other choice” because Biden “violated the dignity of life” by his opposition to a ceasefire in Gaza.
“We do this knowing full well that not supporting the president means him potentially losing seven critical swing states and up to nine that add up to 133 electoral votes. Last election, 74 electoral votes was the margin that Mr. Biden won by (over Trump). We are here to announce a 50-state strategy involving all states, fundraising, working on messaging, working on data to ensure that President Biden loses the upcoming election,” Salam said.
“The president betrayed us. He violated the value of dignity and life. The idea of ‘the lesser of two evils’ is not a package people can support — a policy of death — there is no greater evil than death. Even living under a Republican for the next four years is nothing compared to living one day in Gaza.”
Presidential candidates are given “electoral votes” when they win each of the nation’s 50 states. Electoral votes reflect population size. In 2020, Biden received 306 electoral votes, defeating Trump who received only 232. To become president, a candidate must have at least 270 electoral votes. #AbandonBiden activists said that they can prevent Biden from reaching that 270 electoral vote total.
There are more than 7 million Muslims and about 4.5 million Arabs in America, numbers estimated by community leaders because the US Census excluded the counting of Arabs and Muslims during its decennial count.
“Swing states” where Biden defeated Trump include Michigan, by only 154,188 votes; Arizona by 10,457; in Wisconsin by 20,682; in Georgia by 11,779; in Nevada by 33,596; and in Pennsylvania by 81,660 votes. In Minnesota, which has a large Arab Muslim population, Biden defeated Trump by 233,012 votes. But Salam said the Muslim vote would increase there significantly because of voter registration and activism.
The size of these vote differences are dwarfed by the more than 155 million votes cast.
Salam said that civil rights could not be compromised for political agendas and that “protecting the lives of others, even if they are not American,” is a principle that must be embraced.
“This story is just the beginning. We are hoping to change the political landscape and bring both parties closer to pursuing justice in foreign policy,” Salam said.
“There is no choice … folks tell us Mr. Trump will have a travel ban. But the reality is what Mr. Trump’s policy did, and we are committed fully to the idea of not voting for Mr. Trump — if he is running, that is still a big question. We believe this idea that your parents or your family can’t come into the country, the policy which was pursued by Mr. Trump, is not like a policy in which your friends and family are killed.”
The #AbandonBiden organizers said that they are pursuing collaboration with Hispanics, African-Americans and youth who are also shocked by Biden’s refusal to call for a ceasefire in the Gaza war, in which more than 20,000 people have been killed, including more than 8,000 children.
Salam said that the “#AbandonBiden campaign” was “a political awakening” for the Arab and Muslim American community.
“Mr. Biden, what is the point of voting for you if you deny 2.2 million people water? Mr. Biden, what is the point of voting for you when you deny 2.2. million people food?” Salam said.
“It is sad for us to say this, because we were by your side … Americans are among some of the most beloved people who wish and pursue a better world. But they don’t understand Gaza.”
Speakers at the press conference included activists from Minnesota, Michigan, Arizona, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia.
“Mr. President, this is not a ‘tantrum.’ This is real. And it is beyond 2024. We advise you to pack your stuff and either go to Delaware or go to Pennsylvania because we will not bargain on the blood of innocent people,” said Khaled Kansou of Minnesota.
Khalid Turaani, a Michigan activist, condemned Biden for using the US veto to block a ceasefire at the UN that would have saved thousands of civilian lives, and for giving “more weapons and ammunition” and funding to Israel to continue the assault.
“The genocide is the point. This is the first war in history that is being live-streamed. It is almost embarrassing to call ourselves Americans when our government, our tax dollars, are being used to excuse these war crimes; this is genocide,” Turaani said.
Turaani said that the Arab and Muslim community were insulted that cronies and supporters of President Biden were brushing off Arab and Muslim anger and frustration as being “temporary,” a “tantrum,” or an exercise in “therapy.”
“Things will be different in November … We will make sure you are a one-term president. We will make sure that you will go down in history paired with Gaza and that Gaza made you a one-term president,” Turaani said.
Turaani said that the community was especially angered by how Biden had embraced Israel’s propaganda and “exaggerated claims” of violence while marginalizing counter-claims from Palestinians, resulting in “even more Palestinians being killed.”
#AbandonBiden organizers emphasized that the issue was not about endorsing any other candidate. It was about “standing up for principle and morality.”
Salam said that the movement would be organizing in each of the “swing states” and would establish a voting presence in all 50 US states. He urged the public to visit www.AbandonBiden24.com for more information.