From Kalamazoo to Port Huron, when people hear his message they tend not to care so much about how he prays; they care about what he’s praying for and what he’s working for.
DEARBORN — During a fundraising dinner at Byblos Banquet Hall on April 30, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Abdul El-Sayed briefly addressed the unfounded conspiracy theories about his campaign bandied about on video by State Sen. Patrick Colbeck (R-Canton), a Republican gubernatorial candidate.
The video, made at an event in Florida, surfaced on April 24.
“Article six of this Constitution guarantees us the right to serve in any office in this country independent of the choices that we make about how it is we want to pray, if we pray at all,” El-Sayed told the audience as he held up a copy of the Constitution. “That is what this Constitution is about and there is nothing more American than this Constitution. Now, there are people out there who want to define it differently, people out there who want to use fear-mongering tactics to call out relationships to whatever it is they want to say; and the thing about it is it seems like they have never read this document at all.”
El-Sayed said the only way to empower and save America is to stand up for the Constitution and challenge it on its own ideals.
19th District Court Judge Sam Salamey said he hopes Colbeck didn’t mean any harm to anyone and that his comments stemmed from a lack of knowledge rather than malice.
In the video, Colbeck claimed that El-Sayed is part of an organized plot to take over American political leadership positions and start a “civilization jihad.”
“It is so unfortunate that some of our politicians are so misinformed,” Salamey told The AANews. “They are really not in direct contact with the reality of our country.”
Salamey said the United States is unique because of its Constitution and its history of immigrants.
“This country is a nation of immigrants and it just happens that some folks came here before others,” Salamey said. “But that does not give anybody the right to define America how they want to define it. Our America is defined by our Constitution and by our laws, and we are a nation of laws and not of man.”
Salamey said that if Colbeck looks for it he will see many great Arab and Muslim Americans across the history of the United States. Citizens who have fought in our armed forces, stimulated our economy and contributed to our culture who happen to be of Arabic or Muslim descent.
Before El-Sayed spoke, Conner Farrell, finance director of the Abdul for Michigan campaign, told the crowd a few benchmarks the campaign has reached. He said the campaign has raised more than $2.5 million— the most of any Arab or Muslim candidate in U.S. history— and amassed a volunteer group of more than 3,000 people across the state. He then unveiled the campaign’s first television ad.
Farrell said it’s the first time an Arab candidate will appear in a state-wide ad campaign anywhere in United States and that the ad will reach 1.8 million homes.
Comedian and Palestinian activist Amer Zahr, who also briefly spoke before El-Sayed, offered three new campaign slogans.
“Don’t be a fool, vote for Abdul,” Zahr told the audience. “If you want to be trendy, If you want to be hip, if you want to be cool, vote for Abdul.”
Zahr said El-Sayed is fighting for a multitude of progressive ideas, including establishing universal healthcare, providing toxic-free water to Michiganders across the state and providing tuition-free college to residents in the state who make less than $150,000 a year.
That last point lead to Zahr’s third slogan.
“If you want your kids to go to school, vote for Abdul,” he said.
James Allen, a lawyer on El-Sayed’s campaign, said El-Sayed has been all over the state during the election season.
“He’s had great reception in places like Ishpeming and Iron Mountain,” Allen said. “From Kalamazoo to Port Huron, when people hear his message they tend not to care so much about how he prays; they care about what he’s praying for and what he’s working for.”
Allen said that El-Sayed is the realest candidate he’s ever supported.
“Abdul is the real deal,” Allen said. “I’ve never been prouder to lend my name to a campaign then I am with Abdul.”
Allen said that the people who propelled Bernie Sanders to the 2016 Democratic primary have energized El-Sayed’s campaign. He added that El-Sayed’s message is similar to Sanders’ and that El-
Sayed is the only progressive in the gubernatorial race.
“It’s a crime that there are members of the working population that can’t afford basic needs like housing, food and healthcare,” Allen told The AANews. “We’ve got to address those issues.”