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Muslim students react to Republican race

Courtesy of MCT

While Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul has yet to win a primary race, some Muslim students at Ohio State say they believe the Texas congressman is the right candidate for them.

Paul came in fourth place in the South Carolina primary, second in the New Hampshire caucuses and third in the Iowa caucuses, but the race still seems wide open.

“I feel he stands for the direction the country ought to be headed,” said Meredith Spano, third-year in Arabic and Middle East studies.

Spano also said she believes Paul’s core principles are aligned with those of Islam.

Ismail Adan, a third-year in mechanical engineering, said it was Paul’s “consistency” that lead him to support the Texas congressman.

“The main reason to why I’m supporting the man is because he seems consistent, he’s for people’s rights and what more could you really want?” Adan said.

Aside from Paul’s consistency, Adan said he agreed with Paul’s foreign policy.

“This country is a major player in the world and foreign policy is really important. I agree with his approach to leave people alone and not try to bomb people for no reason,” Adan said.

Nathaniel Swigger, assistant professor of political science at OSU Newark, said one of the reasons some American Muslims support Paul is because of his stance on sanctions against Iran and the Iraq war.

“He’s very much opposed to military intervention and he’s the only Republican in the field who takes those traditions,” Swigger said. “The other candidates have been quite open about using military force in Iran for example.”

Paul, whose foreign policy is often labeled as “isolationist,” said during the Iowa caucuses that U.S. sanctions against Iran are “acts of war.”

Similarly, Paul’s foreign policy includes cutting aid to Israel, withdrawing troops from Afghanistan and reducing overseas defense spending.

Swigger said war is the only foreign policy that Americans pay attention to.

“If we’re shooting people or if we’re being shot at then that gets our attention,” Swigger said. “Short of that, trade relationships, diplomatic relationships are simply not going to move many voters.”

Other GOP candidates like Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, armed themselves by appointing high-ranking officials as advisers for their foreign policy teams. Some members of the Romney and Gingrich foreign policy team worked under the Bush administration.

Despite efforts made by Romney and Gingrich to shed light on their foreign policies, Swigger said Americans are less concerned with who is appointed as a foreign adviser.

“I think there is a tendency to overestimate the effect of putting so-and-so from the Bush administration on,” Swigger said. “(When) most voters really don’t know much about who presidential advisers are or what they stand up for.”

Romney’s spokespeople did not returned emails from The Lantern.

Mohammed Mohammed, a fourth-year in logistics management, said he is not buying Romney’s policies because he believes Romney is a “flip-flopper.”

“He would support one thing and then years would pass and then he would flip around and be completely against it,” Mohammed said. “Unlike Ron Paul … (who) I feel is a strong candidate because he sticks to his words.”

Shammas Malik, a third-year in international studies and political science, said it’s Paul’s domestic policy he doesn’t agree with.

“His foreign policy may make sense compared to the George Bush policy of invading countries but still his thought process isn’t entirely coherent,” Malik said. “I don’t think it’s sensible at all.”

The Lantern was unable to reach Paul’s spokespeople for comment.

Swigger said young American Muslims might tend to focus on foreign issues because of the familial and cultural ties they share with the specific regions.

“(American Muslims) are slightly more likely to be first- or second-generation immigrants,” Swigger said. “And therefore have a lot of political or familial ties to the region slightly more than the average voters.”


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