October 23rd, 2008
06:12 PM ET

A republican Muslim no more

Hesham A. Hassaballa
Beliefnet.com contributor

I have voted ever since I came of age at 18. I still remember voting for Ross Perot while I was away at college at Marquette University.

But ever since then, I have been a Republican. I have even been a committeeman and assistant committeeman in my local Republican Party organization. And in 2000, my wife and I both well remember when I left her in labor at the hospital long enough to go and enthusiastically cast my vote for George W. Bush.

I have always been attracted to the GOP and have felt most at home in the party of Abraham Lincoln. After all, I do live in the Land of Lincoln. More importantly, I like the Republican Party’s traditional ideals: Government should not dictate to people what they do in their own personal lives; government should not intrude on people's privacy; taxes are the people's money and should be handled with the utmost care. Moreover, my socially conservative views are welcome in the Republican Party, and I do not feel ridiculed as I sometimes do when I engage Democrats in conversation.

But in the past seven years, I have had a tremendous identity crisis as a American Muslim Republican. And after much gut-wrenching contemplation, I have decided to leave the Party.


Filed under: Hesham A. Hassaballa • Islam • Raw Politics • Religion • Republicans
soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. Jacqui Miller

    The republican rallies have unintentionally brought out the very worst of American bigotry. I am neither muslim, or an Arab, but when that confused and bewildered woman told McCain that she didn't trust Obama because he's an Arab, and McCain replied "no ma'am he's not, he's decent"........i cringed from the absurdity of the exchange. Aren't Arabs decent people too! Is every Arab a terrorist? Is every black man a thug? Is every white man a racist bigot?

    I believe that what Colin Powell said is very true, an Obama presidency will represent a broader spectrum of Americans!

    October 23, 2008 at 9:33 pm |
  2. Carl S, Portland, OR

    I think Hesham is switching to Obama for the same reason many republicans white, black, brown, young ,old are switching.....because Obama gets it and has a better plan for getting this great Country back on it's feet and taking it in the right direction into the future. Even elected Republicans in Washington are going Obama.

    October 23, 2008 at 9:03 pm |
  3. cee

    You did a good thing for yourself and family. Also Obama isn't Muslim. I wished he could have changed his name to a American
    name. I know the democratic party will accept you more than the republican. The republican are conservatist ideas and many racist people are in that party. I am sorry to state that FACT.....

    October 23, 2008 at 9:01 pm |
  4. Christy

    Exactly Lorraine. And people for some reason have trouble admitting that these things are happening, especially prevalent in this election. But, to that I would direct them to an online paper in a little town called Alamogorde, New Mexico. I would invite them to read the comments attached to their biggest story of the day. What Dr. Hassaballa did took a lot of courage, but I am glad he hasn't been silent. None of us should be silent when we hear this ignorance.

    October 23, 2008 at 8:58 pm |
  5. Jim

    Let's face it. With the Republicans boasting such "distinguished" members as Michelle Bachman of Minnesota, hack entertainer Rush Limbaugh, Pat and Bay Buchanan and other extreme wackos, it's no wonder you don't feel welcome Mr, Hassaballa. These folks are divisive but that is their right as Americans. Unfortunately, if you don't agree with these people they will accuse you of being un-American.

    Welcome to the real America, Mr. Hassaballa. We Dems are proud of our diversity and tolerance. If that makes me a liberal then I'm a proud liberal.

    October 23, 2008 at 8:39 pm |
  6. Adriana R Maxwell Marrietta,Ga

    It's the appearance of impropriety that gets the Republican Party in trouble. By portraying a very insular group to the public. it has turned off voters of all stripes. Including my husband was a dye in the wool Republican.

    October 23, 2008 at 8:37 pm |
  7. Mary V., Salt Lake City, UT

    One more thing........

    I read this story in the New York Times, this weekend.

    "A Muslim mother is leaning against her son's tombstone at Arlington. The headstone, has CRESCENT AND A STAR. THE SOLDIER WHO DIED FIGHTING FOR HIS COUNTRY.............AMERICA........ IS NAMED:

    This young Muslim-American enlisted to show the world and the USA, THAT NOT ALL MUSLIM HATE AMERICA!


    October 23, 2008 at 8:35 pm |
  8. Marylou

    Hesham,Welcome to the party of inclusion. The great thing about America is you can CHOOSE which party to join, or not join. Again, welcome.

    October 23, 2008 at 8:17 pm |
  9. C. Elliott in VA

    Hesham – I respect your views and your opinions. I also applaud you for seeing the GOP for what it is and leaving. I honestly don't think the GOP has had any "Lincoln" views in many many years.

    From my life experiences – republicans have been the most bigoted, racist, intolerant group I've ever had the displeasure of encountering. They for the most part protest to be christians. They thump their bibles and spew forth the vilest hatred.

    Having proudly served my country as a gay male, I constantly ran into those types. Even as a civilian working for the federal government, I still run into them. And it’s difficult to do anything when the higher ups have the same beliefs.

    So in closing Mr. Hassaballa, please understand that it isn’t just Muslims that the republicans dislike.

    And for anyone who may read this, I am not saying ALL republicans

    October 23, 2008 at 8:17 pm |
  10. Sheri

    I'm not an American and I've heard the assertions that Obama is a Muslim and I'm wondering: "Is it against the American constitution for a Muslim to become President? Are Muslims not part of the American landscape?

    October 23, 2008 at 8:17 pm |
  11. Keith

    How anybody could admit to being a Republican after the past seven year is beyond me. Glad you had the courage to state your disappointment with the GOP.

    October 23, 2008 at 8:06 pm |
  12. Dave

    Hey lunatic Cindy, do you know how some Republicans including McCain/Palin have indicated Muslims in this country are traitors or terrosits? I am not a Muslim but have decided to switch for the hate they are spewing in this great country. I know personally a dozen Republicans who have switched (much of my friends are conservatives who are disgusted with McCain/Palin's gutter politics)

    October 23, 2008 at 8:06 pm |
  13. Rose from Muscoy

    I feel bad for you, Hesham being a Republican for a long time I bet it was hard to change party. I believe faith will put you in the right path.

    And for you CINDY... Bush lied about the war and heaven knows what else he lied about. And about McCain/Palin campaign people well, they have thrown around comments about Obama being a Arab, Muslim or having Islamic religion faith...like it was a bad thing!
    IT'S NOT!
    Did you see, "MEET THE PRESS" when Colin Powell told a story about a mother kissing her son's grave?
    It's people like you that brings hate and sorrow around the world CINDY.

    October 23, 2008 at 8:00 pm |
  14. Lamont austin

    Its because the majority of repubs are prejudice and its obvious. Im a black repub. and Im changing asap, i really dont feel like repubs. represent all of america especially after this years election.

    October 23, 2008 at 7:56 pm |
  15. Larry

    Yep, being a republican in Chicago; especially at this time, is like playing russian roulette.

    October 23, 2008 at 7:48 pm |
  16. Sir Ching

    It's good to see an awakening taking place. This is not to say that the republicans are all wrong and the democrats are all right, but when you have prominent people voicing their concern for the direction in which their party is heading, it's time for some soul searching. I believe their are far too many decisions being made for the good of the political party rather than what's best for the people. I also believe there are far too many people, blindly, casting their votes based on party affiliation rather than the issues.

    October 23, 2008 at 7:33 pm |
  17. RM from Michigan

    Hesham, I understand your frustration. I have been a republican since I registered to vote in 1971. I am ashamed of the republican party. I am ashamed of what Bush has done to our country and I am ashamed of how McCain is handling his campaign. I am now an independent and I am voting for Barack Obama.

    p.s. to Cindy .... Ga. I think you should join Glen Beck at Fox News (you will fit right in there). I think your insults and attacks are getting old.

    October 23, 2008 at 7:24 pm |
  18. Cindy in Indiana

    Dear Hesham,

    As I read your letter I started getting tears in my eyes. This has clearly been a long thought out decision for you and one not taken lightly. I am so sorry there are people out there so full of hate and hard feelings. I too have become disillioned with the Republican party and am so very, very sad that John McCain has become such an angry and bitter man. It is heartbreaking to see him stoop to such vile and destructive practices, more so recently as his desperation grows. I truly admired him and voted for him in the 2000 election. I will not be voting for him this time. While others may see your leaving the party in a harsh light, I see your decision as the only choice left for you and other Muslims. I am a Christian but am full of hope when I read the words of kindred spirits like yourself. I wish you well in all your endevours! Take good care! Cindy

    October 23, 2008 at 7:21 pm |
  19. Lorraine, Oakland CA

    See what I mean in my last statement? We still have people (like Cindy) who do not see that this is an issue in America. Very sad reality.

    October 23, 2008 at 7:20 pm |
  20. paul

    Well the reason there is resent towards muslims in general is their inability to assimilate into western culture (look at france)

    Racism is bad, but so is the thought that all cultures are equal they simply are not.

    October 23, 2008 at 7:17 pm |
  21. JUDY

    I don't blame you, I too have been dismayed to see that at the Republican political rallies, this racism against Muslims and other Americans of middle eastern background is not just tolerated but appears to be fostered.

    When John McCain swiftly corrected that woman a couple of weeks ago that Obama is not an Arab, he is a decent citizen. I was glad to see him at least stop her rhetoric, but the correct answer was as follows:

    "No, Mr. Obama is not an Arab, but even if he was an Arab-American, that would not be a reason not to vote for him. "

    We all need to remember that America is about diversity and freedom – FOR EVERYONE – not just rich white folks.

    I too am changing my affiliation. I am a registered Republican, but I refuse to continue to be associated as such.

    Thanks for speaking out.

    October 23, 2008 at 7:13 pm |
  22. Bethany in Nashville

    Bravo, well-written, and welcome. We're happy to have you here.

    October 23, 2008 at 7:05 pm |
  23. Mecca

    The soldier was not given a military funeral because of his beliefs.

    October 23, 2008 at 7:04 pm |
  24. Mecca

    Hesham, I am a former US Army soldier who has had the priviledge of serving with soldiers who are Muslim, Wicken, and Buddhist. I know how you felt because my soldiers felt the same way. There is a fallen soldier who was given a military funeral because of his Wicken belief. He died in Iraq, but that did not matter. The GOP has hurt alot of people, but please remember that all of us are not represented by them. Sarah Palin and her racists attacks hurt John McCain because who cares about his detention in Vietnam, its this election we will remember.

    October 23, 2008 at 7:02 pm |
  25. Carmelita

    Hi this is in response to Cindy...Ga

    Cindy I dont always respond to blogs, but I do read them most evenings and I must say your rethoric at times is appaling. Where do you find the time or energy to respond to so many blogs.

    I hope you are at least getting paid by the republican party. I think they should hire you, to assist with dishing more kitchen sink rethoric.


    October 23, 2008 at 7:01 pm |
  26. Carmelita

    It take's courage sometimes to walk away from that which we know and from that which we are comfortable with. Good for you that you have found the courage.

    It is indeed a sad time in the United States of America. Why is it so difficult for people to embrace and accept change? I guess for the same reason it took you this long to find the courage, to leave a party which basically dennounced your faith and in so doing dennounced you as an individual.

    I do not understand how as christians we say we love a God who we cannot see yet have so much hatred for our brothers and sisters whom we can see. The Bible tells us that the love of God should constrain us to love our neighbours as ourselves. I guess if we do not love our neighbours as ourselves then we do not love ourselves, nor is the love of God within us.

    I wish you peace in your time of reflection and hope that your joy will be manifold.


    October 23, 2008 at 6:54 pm |
  27. Bev Lindenhurst, IL

    Hesham, Good for you and let me tell you the Republican Party of Lincoln is long gone. He was smart enough to surround himself with many men of differing views and they did not always get along. The ugliness of this campaign has really made a stronger independent. I vote for the person I think would be best as President and not the party.

    October 23, 2008 at 6:52 pm |
  28. MPalalay (California)

    "The Republican Party of today is no longer the Party of Lincoln. President Bush, the national Republican leadership, and their supporters have ruined the Republican brand and abandoned its core principles."

    With all due respect to the Great Emancipator, President Lincoln, this paragraph in your article says it all. Glad to know that you had finally seen the shift in party values. Just as McCain declared that he isn't George "W" Bush, for sure neither is he Abraham Lincoln nor FDR.

    Welcome to the real world of American politics.

    October 23, 2008 at 6:50 pm |
  29. Lorraine, Oakland CA

    Hesham, I admire your courage to write this article and point out, what I would call racism to the Arab, Muslim, and Islamic community. I am not a Republican, but it bothers me that there is still a group of people in this country today that still catagorize a group of individuals becasue of race, religion and gender prefrence. You know I am in the Human Resource profession and if anyone in any position treats someone differently due to their race or religious beliefs they are terminated. We should hold our political officials to the same standards.

    October 23, 2008 at 6:40 pm |
  30. Cindy

    From your accusations it seems to me that you are just looking for a reason to vote for Obama. How do you know that every person in the US who ever said any wrong thing about a Muslim is a republican...get real here!? And McCain has never said one bad thing about you or your religion. Just because Giuliani or anyone else said something derogatory don't try to lay that on McCain...he didn't say it!

    As far as wiretapping goes...HELLO..dems voted yes to that also!

    As far as the wars go...ALL of congress voted yes to the war and have voted yes to funding it! Your reason's for leaving the reps are getting slimmer by the minute. Why not just tell the truth and stop trying to hide behind your nationality or religion. The things you stated have no basis in truth. You attache things to the republicans when both parties contributed to them and when it can't be proven which party does it.


    October 23, 2008 at 6:36 pm |
  31. suki

    Congratulations for realizing that the GOP does not represent the real americans

    October 23, 2008 at 6:16 pm |