There is no doubt that since Barack Obama stepped into the political arena, he has attracted the attention of American Muslims. Muslims turned out in record numbers during the 2008 election to cast an overwhelming number of votes for the man who had championed equality for so many people, irrespective of their religion. Soon after his first inauguration, he addressed Cairo’s Muslim community in such a progressive way that no other president had done before. Muslims in Michigan saw him as the sole rescuer of the auto industry that they rely so heavily on for income. And following his appointment of several Muslims to his administration, Obama’s Muslim support base was secured. Instances such as these seemingly won the hearts of American Muslims, as they found solidarity in Obama’s message of inclusiveness.

After countless discriminatory policies were enacted during the Bush administration, the American Muslim community anticipated the 2008 election like never before. Religious and ethnic minorities almost single-handedly provided Barack Obama with the title of President. There was no surprise, then, on November 6, 2012 when American Muslims voted for his second term. The Muslim admiration of Obama was unmistakable, to be sure, but as Islamophobia and misinformation continue to be espoused throughout the country, some remain speculative of what real changes Obama will be able to accomplish for the American Muslim community through actual policy changes, rather than flowery rhetoric.

Yet, progressive change often starts with rhetoric and President Obama’s 2013 State of the Union address was no exception. “America is not a place where chance of birth or circumstance should decide our destiny,” he asserted. (Politico)  With this, he turned the focus away from the racial, ethnic, and religious boundaries that so often separate our communities. Instead, he chose to address citizens as simply Americans. He didn’t single out one group over another, which substantiates his vision for a country brimming with mutual-respect and where everyone, regardless of religion, has a fighting chance at creating meaningful changes. But as a community that has had its back against the wall in recent years, American Muslims are justified in their hesitance as to whether this vision really includes their needs and wants.

Those questions can easily be answered, though, as second terms have been proven to result in sweeping policy change. With regards to the American Muslim community, President Obama must remember that, while he needs to cooperate with his colleagues on the other side of the aisle on issues of fiscal nature, he must not be too quick to compromise on matters that would result in diminished governmental support for the rights and respect of Muslims across the country. He can continue to support the efforts of organizations, like CAIR, by relying on his Muslim cabinet members to provide insightful views on the Muslim experience in America. When civil liberty issues arise that directly impact American Muslims, he should remain committed to objectively dealing with them so that religious tolerance is fostered. Ultimately, though, he must keep in mind that while his support base is hugely diverse, American Muslims comprise a substantial portion of it and they are trusting in him to heed their expectations for the next four years.