Muslim American groups are campaigning to register one million new voters before the U.S. general election in a push they say is aimed at keeping Donald Trump out of the White House. Mana Rabiee reports.
Outside Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Falls Church, Virginia, volunteers are hard at work. They're helping a coalition of Muslim American groups to register a MILLION new Muslim voters before the November presidential election. The coalition isn't telling Muslims WHOM to vote for, but the effort IS designed to keep Republican nominee Donald Trump out of the White House… … as Muslim American voters galvanize against what they say is his anti-Muslim "bigotry" - like calling for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. Sadat Najmi says he's been a U.S. citizen for nearly 30 years, but this is the FIRST time he's registering to vote-- because, he says, Trump is simply "against" most people "especially Muslims". (SOUNDBITE) (English) SADAT NAJMI, NEWLY-REGISTERED MUSLIM AMERICAN VOTER, SAYING: "Oh, I feel so great. I was thinking quite a long time to register but this time especially… this time I really believed that I have to." The coalition is canvassing mosques, colleges, bus stations and gas stations -- in cities with U.S. Muslim populations. Nihad Awad heads the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a key member of the coalition, and he thinks -- IF mobilized -- Muslims cam play a crucial role as swing voters. (SOUNDBITE) (English) NIHAD AWAD, CAIR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, SAYING: "About 122 million Americans vote, 60 million on one side and the other 60 million (on) the other side. They cancel each other. The one who makes the difference is the minority votes. American Muslims can potentially play that role." But Republican Muslim Americans who back Trump say they're trying to build their own coalitions in swing states. They want to "educate" Muslims that the man accused of anti-Muslim bias has the strongest foreign policy plan to tackle the biggest threat to Muslims everywhere - radical Islam. Sajid Tarar launched American Muslims for Trump ago and sits on the National Diversity Coalition for Trump -- or the NDC -- which tries to mobilize minority support for Trump. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FOUNDER OF AMERICAN MUSLIMS FOR TRUMP, SAJID TARAR, SAYING: "ISIS, al Qaeda, Taliban, they have killed more Muslims than anything else and that's a message Muslims need to hear and understand and to see the value of strong leadership and that's what Donald Trump is." The Trump campaign says "every vote is important to Mr. Trump" including those of Muslim Americans. It says it's confident these new and previously registered Muslim voters will choose Trump because they too are "angered" by radical Islam and want someone who can fix the economy. Still, a Gallup poll from May suggests only 17% of Muslim Americans have a favorable opinion of Trump. Organizers of the one million voter registration drive believe this is the largest such campaign ever among the Muslim American community and have already registerd hundreds of thousands of new voters. Osama Abu Irshaid is with the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations which launched the campaign. (SOUNDBITE) (English) OSAMA ABU IRSHAID, BOARD MEMBER OF THE U.S. COUNCIL OF MUSLIM ORGANIZATIONS, SAYING: "We want the Muslim community to understand that if you give up your rights voluntarily no one will come and give it back to you. And there are those forces of hate in this country who would love to rob Muslims of their right. So we should fight for our rights and the only way to fight for your rights is from within the system." ...a system he and his supporters hope will deny Donald Trump the presidency in November.