Why Young Muslims Need to Vote

Why Young Muslims Need to VoteĀ 
Written by Naadira Aalim-Johnson, Muslim Link Contributing Writer

Printed in the MUSLIM LINK

THURSDAY, 09 JULY 2015 00:02

I can still remember the day my brother turned at 18 and was legally allowed to vote. My brother did not seem to care about his new found right to vote as much as my parents did. I remember the specific moment my parents tried to tell him how important it was that he use his right to vote after he did not vote for the next president. He stated that he didn't care for either presidential candidate or their policies and decided not to vote for either. At the time I wasn't sure why my parents were so fervently on his case about the topic.

He had given a pretty good reason for why he had decided not to vote, it certainly seemed like a much better answer then the usual reply of "I didn't feel like it" that I had heard from a lot of other people his age. At the time the subject of voting just seemed like something my parents were stressing over unnecessarily. At age 16, the topic wasn't something I really cared to discuss. It wasn't something I needed to worry about for another 2 years.

Not too long ago my parents took me to see the movie 'Selma', a historical film that depicts Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s efforts in Selma, Alabama during a time where racism and segregation were rampant and African Americans were struggling for the right to vote. By the end of the film African Americans were given their right to vote and racist sheriffs and governors were voted out of their positions; positions that gave them broad authority to oppress African Americans. The movie, though heartbreaking, forced me to realize, now at the legal age to vote, why voting is so important. Voting has the ability to make change.

In the aftermath of the shooting in Ferguson, Missouri on August, 9th 2014, the police force in Ferguson was investigated by the Department of Justice. It was revealed that police officers had "routinely violated the constitutional rights of the city's residents." They were applying racial stereotypes and discriminating against African Americans. It was also revealed that although 70% of Ferguson's population is African American, 80% of the police force was white. As surprising as this sounds there was a clear reason why: out of the 70% of African Americans living in Ferguson, only 6% were voting.

When you don't exercise your right to vote, a right that was fought and died for, and is still being fought for in other countries, you are giving your power away to those who may be corrupt or indifferent to the needs of the people. To most young adults it may not seem that we have a voice; but we do have a voice. A powerful one that deserves to be heard. Your vote decides who is patrolling the streets to keep you safe. Your vote decides how are tax dollars are spent and with whom. Your vote decides who serves in Congress, the state, and local governments. The laws they pass can help you or hurt you. Your vote will decide who will be our next president. I cannot stress enough how important your vote is to keep us from having another president like George Bush. We do not need another president like Bush.

If you are of the legal age to vote, get registered and vote in the next election - not just in the presidential election, but the local elections, too. Use your new found right to make a difference that could not only affect you, but your legacy. We are the future and we owe it to ourselves to vote for people who will help better our future.

Naadira is a former student of Al Huda School and Eleanor Roosevelt High School. She is entering her second year in college.

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