PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The local Muslim community is shocked and stunned by comments made Monday by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, but one of his local supporters is defending the plan.
Negative reactions to Trump’s proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the United States poured in on Tuesday, including from Abdanesser Hussein, principal of the Islamic School of Rhode Island. He said the proposal goes against American values.
“What about our country? What about our ethics?” Hussein asked. “What about our values that make our country as it is right now?”
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Hussein said he is worried about how Trump’s message will affect the younger generation of Muslims.
“Are we really bringing up our kids in a way that they are going to build this country?” he asked. “Or are we just planting the seed of hatred among our kids and generation?”
The chairman of the Rhode Island Republican Party, Brandon Bell, also weighed in on Trump’s comments. In a statement to Eyewitness News, he said the proposal is un-American, adding that not all Republicans agree with his views:
Un-Republican, Un-American and Unconstitutional… In this instance, Trump is the voice of attention-seeking reaction, not principled leadership.
Fact is we are fighting an enemy here in radical Islam and homegrown violent extremist unlike anything this nation has seen. It’s one thing to label Islamic terrorism a problem and quite another to label all individual Muslims as a problem.
If Muhammed Ali goes to the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics are we going to refuse him admission back to the United States? This is ridiculous.
State Rep. Joe Trillo, R-Warwick, who is supporting Trump for president, disagrees. Trillo told Eyewitness News he doesn’t believe Trump’s plan is out of line.
“We know we have a problem that’s coming from radical Muslims, so until we get a handle on the problem, I think what he’s saying makes sense,” Trillo said. “Let’s stop all new Muslims from coming into this country and let’s try to control it better than we’re controlling it. Certainly until we know the country is safe.”
Trillo also said opponents of Trump’s proposal shouldn’t fear its impact on people of faith.
“Nobody’s talking about eliminating freedom of religion,” he said. “We have a problem. We know where the problem is coming from for the most part. Let’s do whatever we can to stop that problem.”
Trillo brushed off recent comparisons made between Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler, as well, calling them “ridiculous.”
“Hitler’s main purpose was to conquer the world,” he said. “Trump wants to make the U.S. the greatest country in the world again.”
But Hussein said no one is immune to a plan like the one Trump is proposing. “One day, someone like Trump is going to talk against you, your race, your religion,” he said, adding that Americans need to send Trump a message by electing another candidate at the polls.
Gov. Gina Raimondo, a Democrat, joined the chorus of Trump critics on Tuesday, describing his comments as wrong-headed and bombastic rhetoric that plays into the hands of terrorists.
Roman Catholic Bishop of Providence Thomas Tobin also criticized the Republican frontrunner, saying in a statement:
“Donald Trump’s recent comments about banning all Muslims from the United States are inflammatory and unjust; in fact, they’re just plain stupid. His candidacy has lost any lingering shred of credibility it may have had.”
U.S. Sen. Jack Reed’s office also released a statement – echoing the sentiment that Trump’s comments were un-American.
“Mr. Trump’s proposal is discriminatory and un-American.
This type of divisive rhetoric may boost his poll numbers with some Republicans, but it harms America’s interests. It plays right into ISIS’ hands and helps them with recruiting.
Our allies see the leading Republican presidential candidate abandoning core American principles like freedom and religious liberty and they are rightfully alarmed. We as a nation must reject this type of hate and fear mongering.”