The Georgia Muslim Voter Project was founded in late 2015, in response to the growing anti-Muslim rhetoric that was prevalent in mainstream politics and the low rates of civic engagement in the Muslim community. The mission of GAMVP is to activate Muslim voters in order to elevate our voices. We stand for equal representation and justice in all forms.
In 2016, we held a series of nonpartisan civic engagement workshops at mosques around the Metro Atlanta area to teach folks about the basics of civic engagement: what it means, what are the different forms, and immediate steps that they can take to become active.
We also jumped right into voter registration efforts ahead of the 2016 Presidential Primary. GAMVP volunteers were out every Friday at 3-4 different mosques around the state to register voters during the weekly service for Muslims. Through a combination of online and paper-based voter registration, we were able to register over 1000 new voters in our first year alone. Many of these were first time voters, and few were New Americans. A majority of people were those that had been citizens for years, but never had the motivation to register and actually vote.
So far in 2017, we have partnered with other local organizations to host a candidate forum for the Roswell City Council Special Election that took place in March. This was a great educational opportunity for members of the Muslim community to meet and learn directly from candidates about issues they would work on if elected. The forum was held at the Roswell Community Masjid – the first time a candidate forum has been hosted at a mosque in Georgia.
This year we were also very active in the special election for the seat in the 6th congressional district and other city council special elections. While we had canvassed nearly every mosque in Metro Atlanta ahead of the 2016 election, we were able to continue to register voters, many who had just turned 18 and would be voting in their first election.
Umer Rupani has been a servant leader, using his skills, experiences, and network to help enhance the communities around him. Part of his experience comes from being the cofounder and Advisory Board President of H.O.P.E. (Helping Organizations and People Everywhere) Inc., an Atlanta-based nonprofit organization, which embodies the values of: awareness, civil society, and community building by connecting local nonprofits with young professionals through interactive and informative events. He is also the Director of Volunteer Experience & Development for a national camp, which he has worked closely with since 2009. His philosophy comes from a personal quote: “Be different to make a difference,” which he uses as a guide to find new and creative solutions − to make notable and lasting impacts. Umer holds a M.A. from The George Washington University with a degree in Organizational Management and a B.S. in Psychology from University of Georgia with a focus on Organizational Psychology.