UWindsor law students rallying city's Muslim population to vote in federal election
'It's not about just voting, it's about being informed,' says Mariam Rajabali
University of Windsor law students are working on rallying the city's Muslim population to vote in the upcoming federal election later this month.
Third-year law student Aadil Nathani and second-year law student Mariam Rajabali are part of the Canadian-Muslim Vote non-profit, which bills itself as a "national, non-profit, non-partisan grassroots organization that aims to increase civic engagement of Canadian Muslims through community outreach and education."
The group held a town hall at the Windsor Islamic Association Saturday, attended by members of the community as well as local riding candidates.
Nathani — who serves as the organization's regional coordinator in Windsor — said he first learned about Canadian-Muslim Vote in 2017.
"I've always kind of been interested in politics and then engaging with the community and I found this to be a good opportunity to kind of mix both of my passions," he said.
According to Nathani, the goal is to connect with Muslim voters in Windsor, in order to provide details about local candidates and local issues, while also encouraging constituents to go to the polls.
After all, approximately 79 per cent of Canadian Muslims voted in the 2015 federal election, with Muslim voter turnout as high as 88 per cent in some ridings.
Rajabali said the organization is speaking with local mosques, public schools and Islamic schools as a form of civic engagement.
The duo has spent the past two weeks collecting information about local candidates by scouring candidate websites, as well as conducting one-on-one interviews.
"This campaign is not just about voting," she said. "It's actually about being informed when you're voting. We're trying to make sure that Muslims are aware of the issues of the local candidates and what they stand for and the platforms as well."
Nathani explained that all of that information has been distilled into six key issues pertinent to the Windsor community.
"For instance, we're known as an auto capital of Canada, so it's important to have a question about auto, seeing the high number of autoworkers we have," he said.
Additional questions have to do with Islamophobia, Indigenous rights, the national opioid crisis, climate change, as well as "a few fun questions" to do with candidate backgrounds and hobbies.
Nathani said all of this information will be used to create an infographic and plastered across the city, "so everyone, Muslim or not, can make an informed decision at advanced polling dates next week or at the polls on October 21."
With files from Tahmina Aziz