In response to GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump’s call last week to ban all Muslims entering the U.S., Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) condemned Trump in Northern Virginia Saturday, calling his language “disgraceful” and repeating calls for religious tolerance.
McAuliffe spoke at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) health clinic in Chantilly in front of an audience of nearly 80 people, including Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust (D), local state Del. Kathleen Murphy (D) and former state senate candidate Jill McCabe (D).
“I am embarrassed as an American for the painful and disgraceful language in this country,” McAuliffe said.
Real-estate mogul Donald Trump has been widely criticized both by opponents on the left and peers on the right for his call to ban Muslims after a terrorist attack in San Bernardino left 14 dead and 22 injured earlier this month. Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton has called Trump’s rhetoric “shameful’’ and “dangerous.’’ Similarly, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) called him “unhinged.”
McAuliffe echoed these sentiments Saturday. After a short prayer from the Qu’ran and a Pledge of Allegiance led by a group of local boy scouts, the board of directors, doctors and delegates spoke to reinforce the notion that, while ADAMS is a community of mostly Muslim patients and doctors, the clinic is open to all faiths.
Islamophobia has paralyzed many discussions about how to identify and prevent homegrown terrorist attacks. In recent weeks, Muslims have received death threats and mosques have been vandalized. In response to the fear underscored by Trump’s Muslim ban, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson reminded an audience at ADAMS last week that the majority of Muslims around the world are “men, women, and children of peace.’’
Trump has defended his Muslim ban as “common sense’’ and divided the GOP. According to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey released last week, a majority of U.S. adults oppose Trump’s ban on Muslims. However, among Republicans, voters are split with 38 percent supporting the ban and 39 percent opposing.
“Trump may be leading the GOP now but once we get to the general election, we’ll see the vast majority of people will oppose his hateful rhetoric,’’ McAuliffe said.
ADAMS Compassionate Healthcare Network (ACHN), founded in 2013, is a volunteer nonprofit clinic, which provides healthcare to uninsured, low-income individuals.
‘’Health insurance is an obstacle to so many patients needing care,’’ chairman of the clinic’s board and director of health services Dr. Yahya Alvi said.
Prior to his speech, Gov. McAuliffe took a tour of the health clinic, which provides services including routine check-ups and lab work. He also met a patient who received his first 3D printed prosthetic arm, which the governor praised as “innovative and incredible.”
“We need more outreach like this where Muslims can connect with other communities,” Muslim Lakhani, chairman and CEO of Private Investments LLC, which funded the clinic, said. To end hateful religious rhetoric against Muslims, we will need “a lot more interfaith outreach,” he said.
Commending the center for its contribution to the state, McAuliffe said, “We are different here in Virginia.” The governor cited the commonwealth as the first state to accept all faiths when President Thomas Jefferson signed the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom in 1786 and set a precedent for religious liberty that was later set in the First Amendment of the Constitution.
“Our founders promoted religious tolerance of all religions, specifically Muslims,” McAuliffe said to cheers from the crowd. “We will not let small-minded, intolerable politicians tear down what we have built in this great nation.”
Source: Loudoun Times