Muslim leaders urge Minnesotans not to vote for Biden in March primary

The Abandon Biden campaign wants to pressure President Joe Biden into changing his handling of the Israel-Hamas war

Five young people hold signs that say "Vote Uncommitted"
The Minnesota chapter of the Abandon Biden campaign held a news conference on Monday, urging Minnesotans to vote "uncommitted" in the March 5 primary to protest President Joe Biden's handling of the Israel-Hamas war.
Dymanh Chhoun | Sahan Journal

By Katrina Pross, Sahan Journal

This story comes to you from Sahan Journal through a partnership with MPR News.

Several Muslim leaders are asking Minnesotans to vote “uncommitted” in the presidential primary next week to protest President Joe Biden’s support of Israel’s war in Gaza. 

The Minnesota chapter of the Abandon Biden campaign and other community members announced the effort at a Monday news conference, expressing their opposition to Biden’s policies and calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

St. Paul City Council Member Mitra Jalali and Minneapolis City Council Member Aisha Chughtai were among those who urged Democratic voters to check the “uncommitted” option on ballots instead of voting for Biden. 

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“This is a chance for our communities who are impacted by this ongoing war, this conflict, that we have a chance to speak directly to our president who is running for election this year in our state to ask that he avert course,” Jalali said. 

In the March 5 primary election, voters will choose one of the major political parties in Minnesota, and then vote for one of the candidates in that party. 

Candidates win a certain number of delegates depending on their performance in primary elections across the country. Those delegates then attend their respective political parties’ national conventions in the summer, and vote on which candidate will become their party’s nominee for president in the November election.

Community members said they hope a large amount of “uncommitted” votes will send a message to Biden that many Democrats don’t support his handling of the Israel-Hamas war and will prompt him to take action.

Taher Herzallah, a graduate student at the University of Minnesota, said at the news conference that nine of his relatives have been killed in Gaza, and that others have been displaced by Israel’s military campaign, which has included bombings.

More than 29,000 Palestinians have been killed since the war in Gaza began in October.

A man stands in front of supporters holding 'Vote uncommitted' signs.
Jaylani Hussein, co-chair of the Minnesota chapter of the Abandon Biden campaign, speaks at a news conference on Feb. 26 urging Minnesotans to vote “uncommitted” in the March 5 primary to protest President Joe Biden’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war.
Dymanh Chhoun | Sahan Journal

“My family is starving in Gaza, there’s no other way to put it,” he said. “And we need to put an end to this now. The administration still has a chance to put this to an end.”

Asma Mohammed, who is working with the “uncommitted” campaign, said the effort is only focused on the primary election, and that campaign supporters aren’t concerned whether it could potentially give the Republican nominee an advantage in November’s election. Biden and former President Donald Trump are leading their primary races in the Democratic and Republican parties, respectively.

“The goal right now is not to get people to vote against the Democrat; we just want the president to listen,” Mohammed said.

Jaylani Hussein, co-chair of the Abandon Biden, Minnesota chapter, said the movement to vote “uncommitted” is growing across the country, including in Michigan, which hosts its primary election Tuesday.

“For most Democrats, this is an easy decision to make that has potential serious consequences to saving life,” said Hussein, who is also executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Minnesota chapter.