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Muslim Woman & Jewish Man Booted from Trump Rally for Silent Protest Against Islamophobia

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A Muslim woman and a Jewish man were kicked out of a Donald Trump rally on Friday after silently protesting the Republican front-runner’s Islamophobic views. Rose Hamid, a flight attendant, and Marty Rosenbluth, an attorney, wore yellow badges with the word “Muslim”—an intentional reference to the yellow star badges Jews were forced to wear under the Nazis. Rose Hamid was also wearing a hijab and a T-shirt that read “Salam, I come in peace.” Friday’s incident comes a month after Trump called for banning Muslims from entering the United States following the attack in San Bernardino. Anti-Muslim incidents have increased around the country in the weeks since. Hamid and Rosenbluth join us to discuss their action.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: A Muslim woman and a Jewish man were kicked out of a Donald Trump rally Friday after silently protesting the Republican front-runner’s Islamophobic views. Speaking in Rock Hill, South Carolina, Trump began repeating his call to ban Muslims from entering the U.S., and said Syrian refugees are “probably” tied to the Islamic State. At that point, Rose Hamid, a flight attendant, and Marty Rosenbluth, an attorney, stood up in silent protest. Both wore yellow badges with the word “Muslim”—an intentional reference to the yellow star badges Jews were forced to wear under the Nazis. Rose Hamid was also wearing a hijab, and a T-shirt that said “Salam, I come in peace.” Hamid and Rosenbluth were escorted out of the room as thousands of people cheered. Trump then resumed his speech.

DONALD TRUMP: We have a problem, huh? We have a problem, and it’s going to be solved, but we have to understand the problem. We have to know the problem. And before we do anything, and before we do anything stupid, we have to know what we’re doing. So, we do have a real problem. We do have a real problem. There is such a level of hatred that you can’t even believe it. There’s a hatred, a deep-seated hatred. We have to find out: Where is it coming from, and what can we do about it? And people have to help us.

AMY GOODMAN: Friday’s incident comes a month after Trump called for banning Muslims from entering the United States following the attack in San Bernardino. Anti-Muslim incidents have increased around the country in the weeks since. It recently emerged the Somali al-Qaeda affiliate, al-Shabab, has featured Trump’s comments in a recruiting video.

In response to the ejection of Rose Hamid and Marty Rosenbluth, the Council on American-Islamic Relations has called on Donald Trump to apologize and, quote, “make a clear statement that American Muslims are welcome as fellow citizens and as participants in the nation’s political process,” unquote.

Writing on Facebook, former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich urged people to follow Hamid and Rosenbluth’s lead and attend Trump rallies wearing hijabs or Stars of David. Reich said, quote, “All of us have the right in this free country to stand up in silent protest against the closest we’ve come in America to a fascist candidate for president, fueling hatred and spouting lies, who is now leading in the Republican polls,” unquote.

Well, for more, we’re joined by Rose Hamid and Marty Rosenbluth, the pair kicked out of Donald Trump’s rally on Friday in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

Rose Hamid, thanks so much for joining us from Charlotte. Can you describe the scene on Friday? Where were you sitting? Describe who the people were who you were sitting around, and then what happened.

ROSE HAMID: I was sitting directly behind Trump, several rows up. And I was sitting—when I originally got there, we were sitting—I was sitting in one row with some of the other folks who had planned to protest. And then, later on, there were some seats that opened up in the—further down, so I moved on down, and Marty joined me there.

The people that I had had a chance to talk with, before the people who had planned to protest were there, were nice people. They were—they’re Trump supporters. But one of my goals in going there was recognizing that, as a Muslim woman, I’d probably be the only—and very visibly Muslim woman—I’d probably—it was a possibility that I was going to be the only Muslim that people who support Trump had ever met. So, I wanted to go there with a purposeful attempt to try to connect with some of the people that were there before we started the protest. And my belief is that people are—when you talk to people one on one, they’re decent people, and people want to connect with others. I think that’s just how we’re wired. So it was a very pleasant little chitchat conversation that was happening with the Trump supporters who were around me.

AMY GOODMAN: And then what happened?

ROSE HAMID: Then, when Trump arrived, and there was—he was starting to talk about the Syrian refugees and such, then we put on the yellow badges. Marty gave me one of the badges to put on. So, we put on the badges at that point. And we were actually sitting for a while with the badges on. And then, when he started to ramp up his discussion, that’s when we started—or talking about the problem and “those people” and those kind of things, then we chose that time to stand up.

AMY GOODMAN: So, you stood up, you and Marty Rosenbluth.


AMY GOODMAN: Explain what happened next.

ROSE HAMID: Well, we were just kind of standing there for a while, and nothing really was happening. And then somebody from behind started yelling, “Trump! Trump! Trump!” And then everybody started to stand up. And I haven’t seen the full video, but people were standing, and I was kind of thinking, “No one’s going to notice us, because everyone’s standing.” But then, all of a—then I noticed the security folks came up and told us that we had to leave. So that—then we—

AMY GOODMAN: What were the people saying around you? These are people you had been chatting with just a few minutes earlier, before the speech.

ROSE HAMID: The people around me had not—they did not say anything negative to me. As a matter of fact—and this is a point I really want to be made clear—there was a woman who was in front of me, who I had not had had a chance to talk earlier, but as we were being led out, she grabbed my hand, and she said, “I am so sorry for this.” So that tells me that people who were close, when you get—when you’re close to someone, when you have an opportunity to connect with someone, those are the kind of connections that exist. And that’s what America is, as opposed to the people, as I was being led up the stairs, who were just shouting and jeering, and “Get out of here! We don’t want you here!” saying those kind of things.

AMY GOODMAN: Did someone say, “Do you have a bomb?” or “You have a bomb”?

ROSE HAMID: Yeah. Yeah, the guy—they guy you could see in the—with the white shirt on. He was a big guy. He could have played Santa Claus if he had a beard on. So, when he started yelling at me, saying, “Do you have a bomb? Do you have a bomb? Did you bring a bomb with you?” I said, “No, I didn’t. Did you bring a bomb with you?” And I was trying to make face contact. I was trying to make contact with those people, in the hopes of getting them to see that they were—they were yelling at a person, who was not demonstrating hate or animosity towards them. And then, as you—further up, there’s a man in a black cap who’s like going, “Boo! We don’t want you here! We don’t need you people here!” and those kind of things. And I looked him in the face, and I said, “You know, you don’t even know me. Why would you be saying things like this?” And then, there was other people—as we were going up, there was other people who were saying things, and I really couldn’t quite hear what a lot of them were saying, but a lot of it was “Boo! Get out of here!” and “We don’t want you here,” those kind of things.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to turn to Marty Rosenbluth. Rose Hamid has gotten a lot of attention, a woman in a hijab with that T-shirt that said “Salam, I come in peace” being taken out. You, too, were standing next to her. Why did you decide to stand up in silent protest? And explain what happened to you.

MARTY ROSENBLUTH: Sure. Actually, there were eight of us altogether who were wearing the stars. And our message is really clear, that Trump’s type of hate speech is very, very dangerous, and the type of fear and anger and hostility that he’s stirring up needs to be addressed and needs to be stopped.

AMY GOODMAN: So, talk about the yellow star, the badge that you were wearing, and what it means.

MARTY ROSENBLUTH: Sure. We actually got the idea from a Muslim woman at a demonstration in London, who wore an eight-pointed star that simply said “Muslim” on it. And it immediately resonated with me, obviously, as a Jew, that these are really, really similar to the type of yellow stars and pink triangles and other things that the Nazis forced people to wear during the Holocaust. And when Trump called for Muslims to be put into a database, for Muslims to be identified, to ban all Muslims, he’s singling out an entire group of people based on the actions of a few individuals. So we came up with the idea of making these yellow stars, some of which say “Muslim,” some of which say “human,” some of which say “Stop Islamophobia,” that, you know, people can print out and wear and use any way they want to, to protest against this type of hate speech.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s interesting, because the king of Denmark, who wasn’t Jewish, also wore the star in solidarity. I want to turn to more comments of Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump, who called for a total and complete shutdown of the entry of Muslims into the United States last month.

DONALD TRUMP: Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on. We have no choice. We have no choice.

AMY GOODMAN: Trump later doubled down on his call for a total and complete ban on Muslims entering the United States, despite condemnation from around the world and within his own party. In an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Trump defended his proposal by comparing it to the detention of Japanese Americans, Germans and Italians under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt during World War II.

DONALD TRUMP: What I’m doing is no different than what FDR—FDR’s solution for Germans, Italians, Japanese, you know, many years ago.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: So you’re for internment camps?

DONALD TRUMP: This is a president who was highly respected by all. He did the same thing. If you look at what he was doing, it was far worse. I mean, he was talking about the Germans, because we were at war. We are now at war.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Marty Rosenbluth, you have Donald Trump saying that what he’s calling for is similar to the internment of Japanese Americans in World War II, which the U.S. government has apologized for and also paid reparations for.

MARTY ROSENBLUTH: Well, I mean, I think he’s correct, but it’s one of the blackest marks, you know, on U.S. history, where people who were United States citizens, just because they happened to be Japanese, were incarcerated. And the fact that he’s using this as a model and thinks it’s a good idea, I think is really indicative of the problem with what he’s saying.

The thing that shocked me the most, after being now in three Trump rallies, is the reaction of the crowd. And like Rose was saying, I mean, people seemed really nice, but the more he speaks and the more he goes on ranting and raving, you can actually see the hate and the fear grow in people’s eyes.

AMY GOODMAN: Marty, you’re joining us from Chapel Hill. Rose, you’re joining us from Charlotte, North Carolina. Next month marks the first anniversary of the Chapel Hill shootings, when three Muslim students were killed by a gunman who had posted anti-religious messages on Facebook. The victims were two sisters, 19-year-old Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha and 21-year-old Yusor, as well as Yusor’s husband, 23-year-old Deah Barakat. Police said the killings resulted from a dispute over a parking space. But Mohammad Abu-Salha, Razan and Yusor’s father, described the killings as a hate crime. He also accused the media of propagating anti-Muslim sentiment.

MOHAMMAD ABU-SALHA: They both, my daughters, wear the scarf. There is not a single week that our daughters don’t share with us their fear of walking down the street because of what the media is saying about us. Inflammatory media all the time. Inflammatory media all the time. They pick up the bad apples, and they magnify the picture, and they dwell on it day and night. …

We’re sad. We’re distraught. We’re shocked. We’re angry. We’re—we feel we were treated unjustly. This is uncalled for. We heard from the media—not from the media, from the police folks that each one of these children had a bullet in the head. This was an execution style, this was a hate crime from a neighbor our children spoke about, they were uncomfortable with. He came to their apartment more than once, condescending, threatening and despising and talking down to them.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Mohammad Abu-Salha, Razan and Yusor’s father, the two victims, a year ago. Rose Hamid, you knew this family, and your children did?

ROSE HAMID: My children knew them. I didn’t know them, but my children did. And so, they—when I told my daughter about it, she couldn’t—she couldn’t believe that such a thing had happened. And it’s this—it’s hate speech that does this kind of stuff. It’s stuff—it’s people in power who empower people to do things from their lowest base. It’s not how—it’s not how we are supposed—that’s not how God made us. That’s not how—God did not make us to be murderous, hateful people. He made us to be loving people. And when people in power give license to that devil-inspired behavior, then that makes people feel like, “Oh, well, you know, if so-and-so is saying that, then it must be OK for me to feel this way, and it must be OK for me to go on and do these things.” So, hate speech is a really problematic thing. As a matter of fact, I was told that there’s a petition in England to prevent Bush—to prevent Trump from coming to the U.K., because there’s laws there against hate speech. So, I found that to be rather interesting. So this whole thing about hate speech is really the focus of the protest that we were there for.

AMY GOODMAN: After you and Marty were taken out, Donald Trump—and we just played this—said, “There is such a level of hatred [that] you can’t even believe it. There’s a … deep-seated hatred. We have to find out: Where is it coming from, and what can we do about it? And people have to help us.” He wasn’t talking about you being taken out. Has he apologized? CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relationships, has called for him to apologize. And are you calling for the same thing?

ROSE HAMID: I am not personally calling for an apology, because this is not about me. This is about him changing the way that he speaks. He has a responsibility. As somebody who is trying to be the president of this country, he has a responsibility to set the tone for how we are supposed to interact. And to rile the crowd up like that, and to have this—you know, before even going in, or before he came in, his organizers said, “Mr. Trump respects the First Amendment almost as much as he does the Second Amendment. And those who want to speak are free to speak outside.” So, that kind of set the tone for the whole thing. It’s like it’s saying—

And here’s a really interesting fact of it. I’ve been interviewed by people, by agencies around the world. And people keep asking me, you know, “So, you know, Americans hate Muslims.” I’m like, “No, no, no. No, no, no. Not all Americans. Not all Americans hate Muslims.” So now I’m in the position of having to defend America and say, “No, what you saw on that video is not representative of what my America is. That’s not what it is.” So, here I’d gone into the rally as an American, also being—knowing that I was going to be visible as a Muslim. So representing Muslims, I went in with that kind of representation and wanting to do the right thing and be as respectful as possible without causing a disturbance, and just also being—using my First Amendment right to freedom of speech by standing against this hateful rhetoric. Now, I find myself having to defend America against the things that people are—the video that is being shown around the world. So, I find that to be problematic as an American Muslim on both camps. So, it’s really something that needs to be addressed, as far as this concept.

AMY GOODMAN: And how did you—how did you come up with the idea of the T-shirt that said “Salam, I come in peace.”

ROSE HAMID: My son has a T-shirt-printing business, and he—and we were talking about what—I assumed I would get like maybe one picture in a newspaper somewhere with the T-shirt on there. So I thought, whatever I wear, I need to make sure that I’m sending a message that is representative of my faith and representative of what—of my purpose for being there. And so, he helped me come up with that. We came up with that design, and it’s something that’s on his—it’s one of the T-shirts in his cool Muslim T-shirt business. So I wore that one in the hopes of giving the message out that that’s what—that’s what I came there for. I came there to be peaceful.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you both for being with us. Rose Hamid and Marty Rosenbluth silently protested Donald Trump’s speech Friday in Rock Hill, South Carolina, and were kicked out. Marty Rosenbluth, speaking to us from Raleigh, North Carolina, and Rose Hamid, speaking to us from Charlotte.

This is Democracy Now! When we come back, a record settlement in New York between the ACLU and the New York City Police Department around surveillance of Muslims. Then we go out west to Seattle, Washington. Why are five activists going on trial, and what it has to do with climate change? Stay with us.

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