• Mosques were approved as caucus sites in Iowa for the first time ever this year.
  • Five mosques in the Des Moines area were used as caucus sites during the first 2020 Democratic primary contest on Monday.
  • Muslims make up roughly 1% of adults among the nearly 3.2 million people who live in Iowa.
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For the first time ever, mosques were approved to be used as caucus sites in Iowa for the first Democratic primary contest on Monday.

In an effort to increase participation amid an era of increased Islamophobia in the US, the Iowa Democratic party approved five mosques in the Des Moines area as official satellite caucus locations, Al Jazeera reported. Muslims make up roughly 1% of adults among the nearly 3.2 million people who live in Iowa.

Members of Congress who endorsed and have been campaigning for Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, including Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Ro Khanna of California, have visited the sites.

Omar, one of the first two Muslim women to be elected to Congress in US history, visited the Muslim Community Organization in Des Moines, Iowa, after prayers on Friday.

“It’s not about somebody else. This election cycle is about us. This election cycle is about your daughters who are in schools who are dealing with xenophobia, with racism, with Islamophobia,” Omar said to members of the community, urging them to participate on Monday, Middle East Eye reported.

Khanna, who is one of Sanders’ campaign co-chairs, took photos with Muslim women who were reportedly caucusing for Sanders in Iowa on Monday.

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Ako Abdul-Samad, the only Muslim state lawmaker in Iowa, told Al Jazeera “it’s historical” to see mosques used as caucus sites.

“I think now that Muslims are coming out because we are now realising that if we don’t tell our story, nobody else will,” Abdul-Samad said.

Bilingual English-Spanish satellite caucuses were also held for the first time on Monday in Iowa – a state with a 6.2% Hispanic or Latino population, according to the US Census Bureau. This was done in an effort to encourage Latino voters to participate.