By Sawsan Morrar
It wasn’t the first time that The Muslim Community mosque in Folsom opened its doors as a polling place. But on Tuesday, more than 700 voters cast their ballots as children played during recess and worshippers headed to prayer.
Folsom resident Peter Macrostie said it was his first time voting in the mosque. “With the Trump climate, I thought it was interesting. It was actually kind of cool,” he said.
During the 2016 presidential election, then-president Fiaz Saied decided to bring the polls to the mosque. He thought it would bring the community together, and it did: More than 900 voters for Hillary Clinton showed up, as did 900 voters for Donald Trump.
Saied said the members of the mosque are doing their civic duty. “It’s good to meet people in your local communities, and get to know them ... rather than depending on people thousands of miles away telling you what people are really like,” Saied said.
Voter Olivia Souders agreed. “I think it’s great to get people to come and have to walk onto their property and see the fact that they're not bad people,” she said.
Islamophobia is high in America, and can often be attributed to politicians’ rhetoric toward Muslims. Recent polls indicate that Muslims are feared and distrusted, and the majority of Americans do not know a Muslim.
However, civic engagement has surged in the Muslim-American community. On Tuesday, the first two Muslim-American women were elected into Congress.
The Muslim Community of Folsom plans to continue bridging that relationship with more events and civic duties.
“If anything we need to bring everybody back together, and coming to a Muslim place to vote is a pretty good way to do it,” Saied said.
Sawsan Morrar is a freelance reporter in Northern California. Her work can be found on KQED and The Washington Post. Twitter: @sawsan24