DETROIT (WOMENSENEWS) –This trio of Arab American girls in the Detroit area will be voting for the first time in a presidential election in November 2016. Despite the historic bid by Hillary Rodham Clinton to become the first female president of the United States, none are supporting her, at least so far.
Raya Nashef, 17, a senior at Bloomfield Hills High, doesn’t think Clinton’s gender is enough to win her vote. “To me, this is less about identity politics and more about what she can offer for Muslims and other underrepresented groups,” Nashef said, her tone plagued with exasperation.
“I would like to see her openly reach out to American Muslims and show clear support for them,” she said. “Obama has done an amazing job of doing this thus far. Not only has he tried breaking stereotypes portrayed in the media, he has also gone out of his way to make American Muslims feel like they are a part of this country.”
She would also like to see Clinton “propose a solution to the massive influx of refugees from the Middle East.”
Nashef, who along with the other teens was interviewed at the Muslim Community Mosque in Farmington Hills, Mich., is particularly concerned with Clinton’s approach to the looming Syrian crisis. A Syrian herself, Nashef finds Obama’s efforts to denounce the regime of President Bashar al-Assad regime inadequate. Nonetheless, she admires parts of Obama’s leadership, and hopes to see the same in Clinton.
In preparing for her first time voting, Reem Al-Bakkour, 17, will educate herself by watching the candidates’ speeches. She feels bad about not supporting Clinton. “I feel like I should be enthusiastic about a woman in the Oval Office,” she said.
But she said that Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders has the strongest appeal for a young voter like herself, citing his plan to make public university education free. She feels that Clinton has the experience necessary but she “has not said or done anything that has made her standout among equals.”
Raneem Abu-Bars, 18, a Palestinian American, strongly opposes Clinton because of what she sees as her pro-Israel bias. “The extensive support she has for Israel is not something I can stand, nor will I ever.”
Abu-Bars, a student at Oakland University in Detroit, considers Clinton a flip-flopper on Israeli-Palestinian issues. “Clinton seems to be pandering to her audience when it comes to her indistinct stance on Palestine and Israel,” Abu-Bars said, describing Clinton as a politician who has both expressed strong support for Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while also criticizing his West Bank settlement policy and claiming empathy towards Palestinians. “This sort of behavior is a red flag for dishonesty and that is the last descriptor we want for our next president.”
Abu-Bars said she likes to disregard gender when making political decisions, which, in her opinion, is the “true essence of feminism.” She will continue to closely follow along with the candidates as the campaigns progress.