COBB COUNTY, Ga. — The last few weeks have been busy for Shafina Khabani, the staff and the volunteers at the Georgia Muslim Voter Project. Saturday was no different as people unfolded tablecloths and displayed merchandise in preparation for a candidate forum at the Masjid Al-Furquan West Cobb Islamic Center.
The event brought candidates from across the political spectrum together to address a room full of people Khabani says are not usually given attention.
"There's this perception that Muslims are not engaged or don't care about this country and that's just not true," she told 11Alive's Karys Belger.
Khabani is the Executive Director of the Georgia Muslim Voter Project. The organization was started in 2015 in order to address the void in civic engagement in the Muslim community and to push for more attention from those running for and occupying public office.
"We actually have a list of approximately 70 to 80,000 likely registered Muslim voters in the state of Georgia," she said. "So whereas at one time in 2015, where we were maybe reaching out and calling 800 to 1000 Muslim voters."
Over the last few weeks, Khabani and her team have been hyperfocused on registering people to vote and letting them know where they can vote.
"Our community members are really excited to be engaged," she explained. "And so when we're coming out to these events...it's a really important platform for us to provide to our members."
Aside from Metro Atlanta, GAMVP had held events in Athens, Columbus, Macon, and Savannah. The wide outreach is something Khabani says is necessary to help address key issues.
"Civil rights, immigration, the economy. A lot of Muslim-Americans are small business owners," Khabani noted.
She said language barriers are also a concern because English is not a primary language for all Muslim voters in Georgia. The recent change over laws has also led to more people reaching out to her organization for advice.
"I'm not sure how to fill out my absentee ballot or how do you vote by absentee or what are the early voting dates and questions about the actual voting process," she described as questions people she encounters frequently ask.
Khabani and her team are eager to help because it means more engagement from the Muslim community and she wants to see these voters at the polls come November.
"We're here," she said. "We live in these communities and we have something to say."