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October 11, 2017 ― The University of Delaware welcomed NPR journalist Asma Khalid to Mitchell Hall Auditorium on October 4. Khalid addressed the topic of religious divides for the National Agenda 2017 speaker series, "As We Stand | Divided." Khalid covered the presidential election of 2016 for NPR and WBUR in Boston. She is also a founding member of the NPR Politics Podcast. After the election, Khalid drew attention with her essay, “What It Was Like as a Muslim to Cover the Election,” where she described public reaction as she traveled the country talking to voters at town halls, rallies, churches, and diners.
Khalid grew up in a small town in Indiana. “The environment I grew up in, everybody had a faith. Being Muslim was not really a point of division.” As a reporter for NPR, she focused on the intersection of demographics and politics. “The goal was to look at fissures along race, age, education levels, ethnicity, and religion."
"It probably took me until after the Nevada caucuses in February to get a sense of how toxic things were becoming," said Khalid. "At that point, I was too heavily invested to quit. This election cycle has exposed fissures in our society that I hadn't seen before."
Before the election, “Anti-Muslim rhetoric was coming from haters, now it's coming from the GOP presidential nominee.” said Khalid. “In terms of the religious divide during this election, evangelical voters voted for Christian values.” They felt that the Republican party’s conservative nature would benefit them.”
“For many, it was their faith” that drew them to the Republican party candidate. On the other side, “many Muslims voted for the Democratic party candidate.” Khalid found it to be an “interesting crystallization.” She said, “When I was growing up, those divides did not exist in my mind ... and yet they were probably the two starkest religious divides I saw in this election cycle."