By Miriam Raftery
January 16, 2016 (San Diego) –A Muslim woman and a Jewish man were forcibly removed from a speech being given by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in South Carolina last week. They were staging a peaceful, silent protest over Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric, both wearing yellow Holocaust stars of David and the word “Muslim.” The woman also wore a hijab head scarf and a shirt that read, “Salam. I come in peace.” She stood up after Trump suggested refugees fleeing Syria are affiliated with ISIS terrorists. Hecklers shouted hateful remarks at the pair and Trump later backed their ouster.
By contrast, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, speaking at a rally in Virginia five days later, stepped from behind the podium to embrace a Muslim woman student who voiced concerns over “Islamophobia” and bigotry voiced by some candidates. Sanders, stood hand in hand with the woman, then spoke of his father’s family who died in concentration camps and gave an impassioned speech, vowing to stand against racism of all forms.
Trump has made numerous racially charged statements, also targeting immigrants, Muslims, Jews and others with negative statements. He called Mexican immigrants “rapists” and has called for deportation of all undocumented immigrants in the U.S. He also has called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”
Remez Abdelgader introduced herself at the Sanders rally as an “American Muslim student who aspires to change this world” and hopes to become a human rights attorney. She asked Senator Sanders his views on the bigotry and racism voiced by some Republican presidential candidates in the media, adding that the hateful rhetoric “makes me sick.”
Sanders embraced her, led her to the podium to stand beside him, then spoke.
“This is what I think. Let me be very personal here…I’m Jewish. My father’s family died in concentration camps. I will do everything that I can to rid this country of the ugly stain of racism which has existed for far too many years. What racism is about is many, many things. It is pent up hatred that is lashing out at people in uncontrollable and stupid ways. But it is something very different than that. For many years in this country, and I am old enough to know this, we have had white politicians who have played black off against white. So they told white workers who are earning pennies an hour, `Hey, you think you’re in trouble, but you’re better than the blacks who can’t drink from a water fountain or go to your school. And they told straight people, well you think you’ve got problems, `well you’re better off than those gay people, right?’ And they held men against women. They played one group off against each other. And the rich got richer while everybody else was fighting with each other.”
The he pledged, drawing loud applause, “Our job is to build a nation in which we all stand together as one people. And you are right. There is a lot of anger being generated and hatred being generated against Muslims in the country. There is hatred being generated against immigrants in this country, and if we stand for anything we’ve got to stand together and end all forms of racism, and I will lead that effort as president of the United States.”
Rose Hamid, the woman who stood up at the Trump rally, later told CNN why she staged her silent protest. “I figured that most Trump supporters probably never met a Muslim so I figured that I’d give them the opportunity to meet one.” She voiced hurt and dismay at the reactions of the crowd and Trump.
Marty Rosenbluth, the Jewish man thrown out of the Trump rally, wrote on his Facebook page, “We were standing there quietly and they started shouting. It went on for about 15 minutes.” Trump made no effort to silence the crowd or hear the couple’s concerns. One member of the crowd falsely shouted that Hamid had a bomb. Others chanted “Trump! Trump!”
Trump later claimed he was the victim, stating, “It’s their hatred. It’s not our hatred.” He also told security present not to return coats to any protesters who were removed, even though the temperature outside was well below freezing.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations demanded that Trump apologize, stating, “The image of a Muslim woman being abused and ejected from a political rally sends a chilling message to American Muslims.” But Trump has refused to apologize.