Arab-Americans leaning towards Clinton, while Arabs in the Middle East feel they will lose either way
Hillary Clinton has the Arab-American vote (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images North America/AFP)
With only a few hours to go until polls open in the US Presidential Election, there is little else being talked about in the Western media. The latest indications seem to suggest victory for Democratic candidate and former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, with a Reuters/IPSOS poll on Monday suggesting she had a 90 percent chance of defeating Republican Candidate, billionaire Donald Trump.
What, though, are Arabs making of the elections?
James Zogby, the founder and president of the Arab American Institute which supports the Democrats has suggested in interviews with Asharq al-Awsat and al-Arabia that the majority of the three-and-a-half million Arab-Americans will be voting for Clinton. However, he said, she was not the first choice of candidate for the majority of them, with Bernie Sanders having gained Arab support through his anti-Islamaphobia and pro-Palestinian stances.
Zogby’s proposed division of Arab-American votes was “60 percent voting for Clinton and 26 percent for Trump.” The Arab preference for Clinton might have something to do with Trump's plan to ban Muslims from the US, or various incidences of apparently islamaphobic comments from the tycoon.
The Clinton campaign certainly won over some Arab hearts on Sunday evening when her husband, Bill Clinton, stopped on the campaign trail to order that most beloved of Arab foods, the falafel sandwich. This, he bought during an unplanned detour in the Michigan town of Dearborn, which has a high proportion of residents of Arab origin. Staff and customers of al-Ameer restaurant were thrilled to receive the former president, who also visited an Arab-run grocery store during the short stop.
Meanwhile, if we look at their cousins back in the Middle East, a poll of 4,345 people on Twitter by al-Arabia, revealed that 40% would vote for Hillary, 17% for Donald and 43% would not vote, proportions not dissimilar to Zogby’s prediction.
"Participate in our #PollOfTheFifth on #al-Arabia. If you were a #Arab-American... How would you vote in the election?"
Nonetheless, Trump has gained support among some Arabs, including those for whom his social conservatism is attractive. One Christian Arab woman expressed on Facebook that she would be voting for Trump due to his opposition to same-sex marriage. A Saudi Tweeter also suggested, citing a saying of the Prophet Muhammad (SA), that:
@AlArabiya لا يفلح قوم ولّـو أمرهم إمرأة— فُےـيّےـصِےـلّ (@mx1889) November 7, 2016
"People do not succeed if ruled by a woman."
Another Saudi Twitter user appreciated what she saw as Trump’s refreshing, if at times controversial, honesty:
@AlArabiya هيلاري لا أعلم إن كانت عنصرية ، ولكنها لا تختلف عن سابقيها بفترة الانتخابات خطابات أمل وبعد الانتخاب انتكاسات واخطاء لا تغفر— Rteel (@Rteel_24) November 7, 2016
"I will vote for Trump because he is clear and honest and does not just use flattery in order to gain power. He showed his racism towards Muslims and Arabs without fear, an excellent step in order that we be wary of him and be able to predict his actions."
@AlArabiya أصوت لترامب لانه واضح وصريح ومايجامل لاجل السلطه أظهر عنصريته تجاه المسلمين والعرب دون خوف ، خطوة ممتازة للحذر منه وتوقع تصرفاته— Rteel (@Rteel_24) November 7, 2016
"I don't know if Hilary is a racist, but she is no different from her predecessors: during the election period all speeches full of hope, after the election unforgivable setbacks and mistakes."
Still others supported victory for Trump on social media with a rather different attitude, expressing hope that victory for the former reality show host would help to expose the ugliness of American politics, or even with the desire to see him bring down America:
An Egyptian Tweeter:
@AlArabiya دخول ترامب في هذه المرحله سيربك الوضع الامريكي و يظهر وجهها القبيح— محمد عبدالمالك البنا (@A5xRYGaEgitKyCX) November 7, 2016
"Trump's entry at this stage would disrupt the US situation and reveal its ugly face."
@AlArabiya اتمني الفوز لترامب فقط حتي نشهد نهابة قريبه لامريكا ،فسياسته تعتمد علي القمع والعنصرية هذا مايؤدي الي هلاك الدول— ¥¥ ZOMA ¥¥ (@Hazoooma77) November 7, 2016
"I hope that Trump wins just so we can soon see an end to America. His policy depends on repression and racism which leads to the annihilation of countries."
The prevailing sentiment among Arabs on social media with regard to the election seemed to be frustration with American politicians, including Clinton, and American interference in Middle Eastern affairs:
@AlArabiya— Hanaa Ragab (@HanaaRagab4) November 7, 2016
الاثنين زفت وقطران علي العرب ..دي سياسه امريكيه وهم عرائس متحركه
"Both of them are crap and rubbish for Arabs... This is American politics and they are moving puppets."
An Egyptian Tweeter:
@AlArabiya لن اعطى صوتى لأحد منهم كلاهما اسوأ من الاخر— ناسيمات عبد الغفار (@2yBwYzEaWPKTRms) November 7, 2016
"I won’t give my vote to either of them, both of them is worse than the other."
An Emirati Tweeter:
@AlArabiya لان السياسه الامريكيه واضحه مافيها صداقه دايمه ولا عداوه ديمه واللوبي الراءس مالي والاعلام مسيطر على القرارات السياسيه كلها— Al Kadasi A.majeed (@a_kadasi) November 7, 2016
"Because American politics is clear: there is not permanent friendship or animosity and the capitalist lobby and the media control all political decisions."
A Kuwaiti Tweeter:
يغلق الستار اليوم على أقذر إنتخابات أمريكية في التاريخ— د. محمد العجمي (@Alajmienv) November 8, 2016
ستفوز كلينتون كما توقعت منذ سنتين
لكن المؤكد سيخسر العرب في الحالتين#أمريكا
"Today the curtain closes on the dirtiest elections in US history. Clinton will win as I predicted two years ago. But the Arabs will doubtless lose in both cases #USA"
A similar sentiment was expressed in comments responding on Facebook to independent Iraqi-American journalist Steven Nabil’s post on the elections, which hinted towards American conspiracies in the Middle East:
“ًWith each new election in America, a new wrong emerges and an old wrong comes to an end. Now, after the election they will go back to destroying Daesh, killing al-Baghdadi [leader of Daesh] and after Daesh they will bring out some new story to busy the world with. Thus continues the American game with this stupid world.”
“Both of them are made from the same clay. They have Israeli plans drawn up, and as soon as they have the tools to implement them, we will see them on the ground. In four years time, they'll create a new organization, like their predecessors Bush and Obama with al-Qaeda and Daesh.”
It seems, then, that while Arab-Americans have settled for the “lesser of two evils”, their relatives back in the Middle East feel that they will lose either way in these American elections.
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