As a candidate, Abdul El-Sayed, who is running for governor in Michigan, is not unlike Bernie Sanders. He's a progressive outsider avoiding corporate PAC money and embracing Medicare for All for the state. But for many voters, he’s defined by one thing: His religion.
El-Sayed, the former director of the Detroit Health Department, is a practicing Muslim, and he would be the first Muslim-American governor in the nation if elected. He’s one of what experts are calling a “wave” of Muslim-American candidates running for office nationwide this year, with as many as 100 candidates launching campaigns.
But El-Sayed has had to deal with religion-focused attacks from one of his GOP opponents — attacks which one of his Democratic opponents has refused to denounce. El-Sayed also told VICE News “very powerful people” in the Michigan Democratic Party told him he’d have trouble winning because of his religion and name.
VICE News spent time in Michigan with El-Sayed to see how the Democrat is responding to the attacks and handling his religion on the campaign trail.
This segment originally aired July 30, 2018 on VICE News Tonight on HBO.