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Undecided Voter Stymied By Candidates' Answers To Islamophobia Question


As we draw closer to Election Day, let's check in with one voter who got the chance to put a question to the candidates during the town-hall-style presidential debate.


GORBAH HAMED: There are 3.3 million Muslims in the United States, and I'm one of them. You've mentioned working with Muslim nations, but with Islamophobia on the rise, how will you help people like me deal with the consequences of being labeled as a threat to the country after the election is over?

MONTAGNE: That's Gorbah Hamed, an undecided voter. She's Palestinian-American and not happy that night that both candidates immediately turned to the issue of terrorism. Welcome to the program.

HAMED: Thank you. Thanks for having me on.

MONTAGNE: And let me begin by asking you, what would you have wanted to hear from one or both of these candidates?

HAMED: That we - that people do see us as Americans and that they want to make us feel included when they speak to people, that we're not just put aside as the Muslims and only thought of as - that we could help with finding people that are going to commit terror crimes. Lots of other religions commit crimes, and they don't ask them to be on the front lines or be extremely vetted. So I don't know why we're singled out. I just want my kids to feel proud of their religion and grow up feeling like they belong, like they're Americans.

MONTAGNE: Of the two candidates, I think many people might have expected you to lean towards Hillary Clinton, if only because you'd be leaning against Donald Trump after he said some things about the Muslim community, about keeping all Muslims out of the United States, then doing a very intense vetting of Muslims. Was there something that Hillary Clinton said that was particularly egregious to you?

HAMED: With her response, when she said we need our Muslims on the front lines. I don't know word for word what she said, but I don't - I don't know what she means when she wants us on the front lines. We're busy living our daily lives just like anybody else. But also I feel like, when she supports only Israel and doesn't even mention Palestinians and the daily human rights violations that are happening in Palestine, that affects me because I have family there.

MONTAGNE: You know, the question of the Palestinians and also Israel was more or less off the table this election season for the major candidates. Is there one that did speak of that that interested you?

HAMED: Before, it was Bernie Sanders. He actually acknowledged Palestinians. What Trump said that resonated with me was his policy about not interfering too much with other countries and kind of taking care of what we have to in our country. We do spend a lot of money on helping other countries with their security, and I think that's a horrible mistake that we make in the United States.

MONTAGNE: Well, then, have you now - with just less than two weeks to go, have you decided who you are voting for?

HAMED: Unfortunately, no. I feel like, with this election, I'm trying to pick the lesser of the two evils. I mean, it's - people always ask me, well, how could you even think Republican? It's because a lot of our Muslim values and beliefs line up with the conservative Republican beliefs and values.

MONTAGNE: Thank you very much for sharing this with us.

HAMED: Thank you so much for having me.

MONTAGNE: That's Gorbah Hamed, a still-undecided voter. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.