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A representative from Donald Trump’s presidential campaign appeared on Fox News to defend her candidate’s assertion that all Muslims who worship at mosques are dangerous terrorists. Another woman, representing the Republican Muslim Coalition, appeared as a counterpoint while wearing an American flag hijab.
The two women were guests on Megyn Kelly’s show after an assertion by Trump that if elected, he’d “strongly consider” closing American mosques because of concerns that they encourage and harbor terrorists.
Katrina Pearson, a spokesperson for the Trump campaign, reiterated her boss’s generalizations, while Saba Ahmed waited patiently for her turn to speak.
“Megyn, we go to the mosque to pray,” Ahmed said, after Pearson listed off a handful of Muslim extremists. “You wouldn’t shut down churches because there were one or two Christians who were acting badly. The mosque has nothing to do with the terrorist. Yes, there are people who misuse the religion for their perverted ideology but that has nothing to do with my faith.”
Ahmed even tried bringing Trump’s business into the conversation. “Mr. Trump has so many business dealings all over the Middle East,” Ahmed said. “He’s worked with Muslims; he knows we’re good, hardworking people. You cannot alienate the Muslim-American voters.”
Ahmed is a vocal Republican and in an op-ed published Nov. 13 on conservative site The Daily Caller, she wrote, “The GOP has lost the African-American vote. They are at risk of losing Hispanic-Americans. Do they want to permanently alienate Muslims, too?”
Trump is not alone in spreading Islamophobia in the U.S. Since the ISIS terror attacks in Paris on Friday evening, more than half of governors in the country publicly announced they would refuse Syrian refuges. And other, smaller incidents, like a young Muslim man in Arizona receiving racial slurs on hookup app Grindr and a hair salon owner in the U.K. getting arrested after she said she would not take any Muslim customers suggest that people in power, like Trump, are setting the tone.
Marisa Kabas is a lifestyle reporter and activist. Her work has been published by Fusion, Fast Company, and Today. She’s also served as an editorial campaigns director for Purpose PBC, a social movement incubator.