Bernie Sanders Visits Mosque to Talk Security, and GOP “Demagogues”

“They want us to believe that the average Muslim is a terrorist.”

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, center, flanked by Imam Talib Shareef, left, and Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., right, speaks during an interfaith roundtable hosted by at Masjid Muhammad, the Nation's Mosque in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015.
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
Emily Schultheis
Add to Briefcase
Emily Schultheis
Dec. 16, 2015, 4:59 p.m.

Looking to keep pace in a campaign where security and terrorism have taken center stage, Bernie Sanders took his message to a new setting Wednesday: he visited a mosque.

On Wednesday, the Vermont senator told a small crowd at Washington’s Masjid Muhammad (also known as “the Nation’s Mosque”) that “demagogues” trying to divide the country are acting in “shameful” ways in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif. He then stressed the strides the country has made to overcome hatred and discrimination in the past.

“Let me begin by stating the obvious: there is enormous anxiety and fear in this country,” Sanders said. “Our people are deeply concerned—justly so—about the threats of international terrorism.”

Sitting at a table with a coterie of religious leaders from around DC—Imam Talib Shareef of the Nation’s Mosque, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Rev. Reginald Green, Rabbi Batya Steinhauf, and Chaplain Abdul-Rasheed Muhammad of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs—Sanders spoke about the history of bigotry and urged Americans to avoid letting fear divide them.

“It’s no secret that throughout the world and in our own country we have seen centuries of bigotry and intimidation, sometimes with unspeakable results,” Sanders said, listing the Holocaust, Rwanda and Bosnia as prime examples of times hateful rhetoric has caused unnecessary and tragic violence.

He denounced the recent rhetoric of “demagogues” when it comes to Muslim immigration, calling out GOP real estate mogul Donald Trump by name and saying the anti-Muslim comments have prompted an increase in hate speech across America.

“Now, at this moment with all of the fears and anxieties people have about terrorism and about the economy, there are demagogues out there: people like Donald Trump who are once again trying to divide us up,” he said. “They want us to believe that people from Mexico coming into this country are rapists and criminals. They want us to believe that the average Muslim is a terrorist.”

Others on the panel echoed Sanders’s concern that “bigotry” has found a place in the headlines in recent weeks. Green, one of the Freedom Riders of the Civil Rights movement, lamented the fact that “we would be at this point in time where bigotry is rearing up its ugly head again.” “We cannot afford to out of ignorance let our lives be governed by the ignorance espoused,” he added.

Terrorism and national security issues aren’t at the core of Sanders’s message, and as the national conversation has shifted away from economic issues and toward security he has struggled to maintain momentum. But the senator has come out forcefully in favor of allowing Syrian refugees into the country, an issue he’s repeatedly spoken about in recent weeks—and in the days since Trump proposed his ban on Muslim immigration, Sanders has made that a frequent topic as well.

In a nod to the economic populist issues that form the central argument of Sanders’s campaign, he on Wednesday also briefly spoke about the economic issues facing families in the United States. “They are also worried about the state of the economy and about the future of their children,” he said. “They are worried as to why they are working longer hours and why they find it harder and harder to retire with dignity.”

What We're Following See More »
TEXAS AND ARKANSAS BASES COULD ACCOMMODATE KIDS
U.S. May House 20K Immigrants on Military Bases
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"The United States is preparing to shelter as many as 20,000 migrant children on four American military bases" in Texas and Arkansas, "as federal officials struggled to carry out President Trump’s order to keep immigrant families together after they are apprehended at the border."

Source:
CONFERENCE ASKS FOR FURTHER CHANGES
Vote on Compromise Immigration Bill Gets Bumped to Next Week
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"House Republican leaders are further delaying a vote on a compromise immigration bill, planning to make changes to the legislation for a vote next week. The news comes after a two-hour Republican Conference meeting Thursday, in which authors of the bill walked through its contents and members raised concerns about issues the bill doesn’t address, multiple GOP lawmakers said. Many members requested the addition of a provision to require employers to use the E-Verify database to cheek the legal status of their employees."

Source:
COMPROMISE BILL TO GET VOTE TOMORROW
Conservative Immigration Bill Goes Down to Defeat
2 days ago
THE LATEST

After a conservative-backed immigration bill failed in the House, 193-231, leaders "postponed a vote on a 'compromise' immigration proposal until Friday. ... GOP leaders, however, are under no impression that they'll be able to secure the 218 votes needed in the next 24 hours to pass the text. Rather, the delay is to give members more time to read the bill."

Source:
CONFUSION REIGNS
Immigration Votes May Get Delayed Until Friday
3 days ago
THE LATEST
FOLLOW-UP TO YESTERDAY’S EXEC ORDER
Prosecutions of Families with Children at Border to Cease
3 days ago
THE LATEST
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login