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Five US mosques approved as Iowa caucus sites in 'historic' first

Iowa's Democratic party approved five mosques in the Des Moines area as caucus locations [Getty]

Date of publication: 4 February, 2020

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In an effort to improve Muslim voter participation, the Iowa democratic party approved five mosques for use as caucus sites on Monday.
For the first time ever, mosques were approved to be used as caucus sites in Iowa this week, in the lead up to the first Democratic primary contest on Monday.

While official results had not been declared on Tuesday due to a technical glitch, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders' campaign, a favourite going into the contest, claimed victory in what is a crucial first step for presidential hopefuls seeking nomination at the party's national convention.

In an effort to increase voter participation in a country increasingly hostile to its Muslim population, the Iowa Democratic party approved five mosques in the Des Moines area as official caucus locations, according to Al Jazeera.

Muslims represent nearly 1 percent of adults among Iowa's 3.2 million residents. 

Members of Congress who have either endorsed or campaigned for Sanders, including Ilhan Omar, one of the first Muslim women to be elected to Congress in US history, have visited the sites.

Omar visited the Muslim Community Organisation in Des Moines, Iowa, after prayers on Friday.

"It's not about somebody else. This election cycle is about us. This election cycle is about your daughters who are in schools who are dealing with xenophobia, with racism, with Islamophobia," Omar said to members of the community, urging them to participate on Monday.

According to early reports on Twitter, Sanders did well at the mosque in Des Moines, where he won the vote of 99 percent of attendees.

US Representative Ro Khanna, who also campaigns for Sanders, also visited mosques, and took photographs alongside Muslim women caucusing for Sanders in Iowa on Monday.

Ako Abdul-Samad, Iowa's only Muslim state representative, called the party's decision to approve five mosques as caucus sites a "historical" event.

"I think now that Muslims are coming out because we are now realising that if we don't tell our story, nobody else will," Abdul-Samad said. 

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