Mus­lim, Sikh back­ers of Trump speak out

Sup­port­ers at An­napo­lis rally praise pres­i­dent on econ­omy, immigration

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - NEWS - By Danielle Ohl

Dozens of pro­test­ers gath­ered Satur­day on Lawyers Mall in An­napo­lis to talk about Pres­i­dent Donald Trump. This time, they were sup­port­ing him. About 50 peo­ple of di­verse back­grounds who turned out for the Mak­ing Amer­ica Great Again, Al­ready! rally wore Trump T-shirts and hats, posed for pic­tures with Trump signs and waved Trump flags to show their sup­port for the pres­i­dent’s agenda. It is the same site at which nu­mer­ous ral­lies have been held by speak­ers crit­i­cal of the pres­i­dent.

The pres­i­dent “has peo­ple against him … from within the party, from the me­dia. We are here to sup­port and en­dorse what he has been do­ing for the mil­i­tary and the econ­omy,” said Sa­jid Tarar, a Mus­lim im­mi­grant from Pak­istan and founder of Mus­lim Amer­i­cans for Trump.

The rally was held the same day as marches with speak­ers ex­pected to be crit­i­cal of the pres­i­dent were staged across the country in sup­port of racial jus­tice. A sim­i­lar rally is planned to­day at Lawyers Mall.

But Satur­day, those out­side the State House had a dif­fer­ent mes­sage.

The rally, co-spon­sored by Mus­lim Amer­i­cans for Trump and Sikh Amer­i­cans for Trump, was in­tended to bring to­gether mi­nor­ity com­mu­ni­ties not typ­i­cally as­so­ci­ated with Trump’s largely white base and demon­strate sup­port for Trump’s ideas.

Tarar, an Owings Mills res­i­dent, has been a vo­cal Trump sup­porter from early on; he prayed on­stage at the Repub­li­can Na­tional Con­ven­tion and spoke in fa­vor of the then-can­di­date.

Trump’s state­ments about Mus­lims and Is­lam are not di­rected at the faith as a whole, Tarar said, nor at ev­ery Mus­limAmer­i­can.

He said Trump’s travel ban, which orig­i­nally blocked im­mi­grants from Iran, Syria, Libya, So­ma­lia, Ye­men and Su­dan, isn’t a ban at all but a pause, to en­sure thor­ough vet­ting of the peo­ple from these coun­tries.

Sikh Amer­i­cans for Trump founder Jesse Singh also im­mi­grated to the U.S. — “legally,” Singh told the crowd. Like Tarar, he at­tended the pres­i­dent’s in­au­gu­ra­tion.

Singh said that when he first ar­rived in Dulles In­ter­na­tional Air­port in Vir­ginia, he was im­pressed by the mod­ern ter­mi­nals and buses. But the bus that he took in 1986 is the same bus he is still tak­ing to­day, he said, adding that the more im­pres­sive air­ports are now the ones in his home country, In­dia.

“So, when Donald Trump says our in­fra­struc­ture has gone down, he’s to­tally right,” said Singh, a Mary­land res­i­dent.

Other speak­ers, in­clud­ing Repub­li­can strate­gist and com­men­ta­tor Ivan Gar­ci­aHi­dalgo, praised the pres­i­dent’s crack­down on immigration and prom­ise to build a bor­der wall.

At one point, a “Build that wall!” chant briefly broke out among the rally-go­ers.

Gar­cia-Hi­dalgo spoke of a boom­ing econ­omy, a low un­em­ploy­ment rate and a strong stock mar­ket, and de­fended Trump’s re­sponse to the dev­as­ta­tion to Puerto Rico fol­low­ing Hur­ri­cane Maria.

Michael Co­hen, who serves as Trump’s per­sonal lawyer, also spoke at the rally via phone and thanked those gath­ered for their sup­port.

Congress has not yet ap­proved fund­ing for the bor­der wall, but the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has an­nounced com­pa­nies that are build­ing pro­to­types. Ad­di­tion­ally, Congress has not passed any eco­nomic leg­is­la­tion, but the ad­min­is­tra­tion in­tro­duced its own tax re­form plan Wed­nes­day.

All mi­nori­ties are not against the pres­i­dent, Singh said.

“Mi­nori­ties have the same agenda as any other Amer­i­cans,” he said. “We want Amer­ica to be great again.”

PAUL W. GILLE­SPIE/BAL­TI­MORE SUN ME­DIA GROUP

Sup­port­ers of Pres­i­dent Donald Trump at­tend Satur­day’s rally at Lawyers Mall in An­napo­lis. The event was held to counter ral­lies crit­i­ciz­ing the pres­i­dent.

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