First 2016 US Presidential Candidate to Stand with Muslims

Sterling, Virginia: Former Governor of Maryland Martin O’Malley has become the first 2016 presidential candidate to stand in solidarity with Muslims.

Amid increasing anti-Muslim rhetoric and firm stances against the religion by Republican White House hopefuls, O’Malley visited a mosque and a community center in Sterling, Virginia on Friday.

“I wanted to be here to be present with you, in solidarity in these challenging times,” O’Malley told the congregation after Friday prayers. O’Malley’s campaign says he’s the first candidate to make such a visit since the start of the campaign season last spring. The communications director at the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Ibrahim Hooper, said he believes O’Malley is the only candidate to have visited a mosque during this campaign.

The Democrat’s visit comes days after Donald Trump proposed a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States which has been largely censured by politicians as inhumane and impractical. Though some of his rival Republicans criticised Trump’s position, none have discounted him as a potential nominee in their party. Further, while the leading Democratic candidates, former secretary of State Hillary Clinton and senator Bernie Sanders, condemned Trump’s proposal, neither has held an event with the Muslim community since violence in San Bernadino.

Speaking at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, the Democratic presidential candidate said, “In these times where fear and division is in the air, it is easy for unscrupulous politicians or hate preachers—no nation is immune from the scourge of hate preachers—to turn us upon ourselves.”

“That sort of language that you hear from Donald Trump is not the language of America’s future…my Muslim neighbors make America strong,” he added.

He continued, “I know that there have been many acts of violence. I know there are acts of ignorance that have been encouraged by some in our political discourse, but the larger arc of our history … is the larger arc of love and generosity and respect for one another.”

Regarding the recent shootings in San Bernardino which killed 14 people and Charleston which killed 9 people, O’Malley said: “And so I know, and I know that our young people understand that the tragic murders that took place in San Bernardino does not define Islam any more than that horrible murder that took place in Charleston defines Christianity.”

O’Malley concluded, “We shall overcome these challenges.”

Earlier, responding to Trump’s proposal to register all Muslims the presidential candidate tweeted, “Mr Trump — when you start your registry of people who oppose your backward, un-American ideas. You can START WITH ME!”

Many responded to the presidential candidate's comments with relief and praise. – The Express Tribune



Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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