© 2024 WYSO
Our Community. Our Nation. Our World.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Local Muslim Groups Host Community Redistricting Event

Whitney Sidiqqi points to a map of Ohio's congressional districts projected onto a white screen inside the Dayton Mercy Society mosque Wednesday night. Community members watch her as they sit at blue tables with laptops displaying the website DistrictR, an online tool used to draw community maps.
Chris Welter
Whitney Sidiqqi points to a map of Ohio's congressional districts at a community redistricting event Wednesday night at the Dayton Mercy Society mosque. Sidiqqui is a member of the Center for American Islamic Relations - Ohio, and they hope to spur civic engagement amongst Ohio's Muslim community.

Local Muslim organizations met at a Dayton mosque Wednesday night to talk about Ohio’s redistricting process and how community members can get involved.

The Center for American Islamic Relations — or CAIR- Ohio — has been hosting map drawing events in Islamic centers all across the state. Attendees from the community used a website called DistrictR to create their own legislative maps.

Ohio is redrawing its federal and statewide political districts this year. In May 2018, voters overwhelmingly passed an amendment that would make redistricting a public process, which includes holding public hearings.

CAIR - Ohio’s goal is to submit as many maps as possible to the Ohio Citizens Redistricting Commission, an independent, bipartisan committee made up of statewide leaders and activists. The OCRC will then submit the maps and public testimony to the official committee redrawing the lines.

Tala Dahbour is CAIR-Ohio’s policy director. She says gerrymandering has split up Muslim communities and diluted their voting power as a result.

“I can walk five minutes east to my Muslim neighbors and they'll be voting in a different district than I am,” Dahbour said. “But we have the same experiences, we go to the same high school, we go to the same mosque. And as Muslims, we have similar lived experiences.”

In 2020, Ohio Democrats received 43 percent of votes, but only 4 out of 16 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Dahbour says fighting against gerrymandering is a way to make sure Muslim voices are heard.

“There's no shortage of, you know, Islamophobia, xenophobia within our political discourse,” Dahbour said. “That's what informs the policies that are made. And it's important that, you know, if we're going to be the subject of policy, that we at least have adequate representation in the government to advocate for ourselves.”

CAIR-Ohio’s next stop is in Cincinnati. They must submit community maps by September 1. which is when the official map drawing process is due. The deadline for the congressional district maps is September 30.

In the meantime, the official redistricting commission will continue to host public hearings through August.

Mawa Iqbal is a reporter for WYSO. Before coming to WYSO, she interned at Kansas City PBS's digital magazine, Flatland. There, her reporting focused on higher education and immigrant communities in the Kansas City area. She studied radio journalism at Mizzou, where she also worked for their local NPR-affiliate station as a reporter.