US: What did Muslims at the RNC think of Donald Trump?

Al Jazeera speaks to Muslim supporters of the Republican party to gauge their views on Trump and his rhetoric on Islam.

Republican presidential nomin
The GOP nominated former reality TV star Donald Trump as presidential candidate [Mario Anzuoni/Reuters]

Cleveland, Ohio – Donald Trump formally accepted this week the Republican presidential nomination, vowing to restore law and order and promising safety and security to Americans. 

The billionaire businessman has previously accused Muslim Americans of cheering during the 9/11 attacks, and proposed a Muslim ban to the US, his rhetoric rising after recent attacks that took place domestically and internationally.

So, what do Muslim Republicans think of their party’s presidential nominee?

Amid the thousands of supporters who spent the week at the Republican National Convention (RNC), Al Jazeera spoke with four Muslim Republicans – some who support the GOP nominee, others who do not – to gauge their views on Trump, his rhetoric on Islam and Muslims, and being a minority in the US.

Saba Ahmed, President of Muslim Republican Coalition, attorney, Washington DC  
Saba Ahmed says that Muslims should support 'Republican values' [Dalia Hatuqa/Al Jazeera]
Saba Ahmed says that Muslims should support ‘Republican values’ [Dalia Hatuqa/Al Jazeera]

We support Republican values; I feel that conservative Islamic values align with the Republican party and to the extent that they are being anti-Islamic, anti-Muslim, it is our job to educate them, and to change their hearts and minds about Islam and Muslims. Unless we get involved, they will never change their perspective on us.

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Last night, it was awesome to see a Muslim actually give a prayer. I’ve never seen that at the RNC, so I think we are moving in the right direction. When he got booed by some, other people stopped them. I think the voices of tolerance and acceptance are louder than the voices of hatred.

Thankfully, I have not had any bad experiences here. Most people come up [to me] and they are very supportive, they’re happy to see Muslims here. The Trump Muslim ban has already been toned down significantly – and I know it’s unconstitutional and illegal – [but] it will never be enacted. It’s just campaign rhetoric that I think we can ignore for the most part.

Waqqas Khan, physician, RNC donor, Illinois  
Waqqas Khan says liberal media distorts Trump’s comments on Muslims [Dalia Hatuqa/Al Jazeera]

I want to make it clear that I do not support every word that comes out of his mouth. I support the core message behind his statement. He has brought very substantive issues to the table, which include immigration, security and the economy.

I understand some people are in dire need, like a lot of refugees around the world; but on the other hand we need to make sure we are focusing on sensible immigration, not senseless immigration. If he wants to ban immigrants, then he needs to ban them based on risk assessment, not based on their religion.

Trump’s rhetoric of anti-Islam, anti-Muslim sentiments, it is misperceived and exaggerated by the liberal media. He’s not anti-Islamic, he’s not anti-Muslim. He just needs to be more informed about it, and he wants to learn; he’s a person who is continuously softening his stance on both Muslims and Islam.

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We are here to build bridges, not burn them. If we are not going to talk to each other and we are going to shut the other party down, saying they are Islamophobes, we will never be able to have a decent conversation and resolve the issues.

Hossein Khorram, at-large delegate, vice chair of USO Northwest, Washington State  
Hossein Khorram says he doesn't feel any discrimination as a Muslim in the US [Anar Virji/Al Jazeera]
Hossein Khorram says he doesn’t feel any discrimination as a Muslim in the US [Anar Virji/Al Jazeera]

I am a Muslim, I am an American and I support my fellow Americans, who treat me the same. I don’t feel a bit of discrimination. In America, being a Muslim isn’t a hindrance, and I’m proud to tell you that. Why support Trump? The answer is clear: Just look at the situation in the greater Middle East; from Libya to Afghanistan, there is tremendous bloodshed, beheadings, rape, sex slaving. This is not what I’d like to see.

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The one nation that is supposed to preserve the dignity of mankind for the rest of the world has failed to lead and to adjudicate the problems. If people want this to continue, they can vote for [Democratic presumptive nominee Hillary] Clinton.

If they want someone with vision, charisma and an ability to make decisions, then the answer is Trump. I don’t think there’s any doubt that Trump is trying to serve the people and [that] he has no negative stance on Muslims.

Suhail Khan, conservative activist, Chairman of the Conservative Inclusion Coalition, Washington DC  

There is a pattern of hostile negative rhetoric against various groups, including immigrants and people with disabilities. There have been some troubling statements towards targeted groups from the campaign but the party views all in society as equal under the law.

I’m not a Trump supporter; I initially supported Rand Paul. The party itself is not at fault; many Republican members of Congress are doing an excellent job with Muslims, and many have been critical of the rhetoric used in the campaign. As a lawyer and conservative, I see that Trump’s comments have had a negative impact on the party.

I’m proud to be a Republican and a conservative, which is why I’m here. My faith does not run contrary to the principles of Ronald Reagan, which include individual freedom.

Follow Dalia Hatuqa on Twitter: @DaliaHatuqa

Source: Al Jazeera