On Sunday, a Sikh man, wearing the traditional turban of his religion, was thrown out of an Iowa Trump rally after he held up a sign that read “Stop Hate.” Now, he is speaking out about the experience.
Ahead, of the rally, the GOP candidate’s supporters were asked not to attack protesters, which his fans have developed a habit of doing, but to instead chant “Trump! Trump! Trump!” as security removes them.
Arish Singh and a fellow protester stood up, held up their banner, and were promptly grabbed by security and roughly forced towards the exit. The crowd, as instructed, began chanting “Trump! Trump! Trump!” before switching their mantra to “USA! USA! USA!”
During an interview with Dan Kugler from Truthout, Singh explained why he decided to protest Trump’s event.
There were two things that set me off. First, there was the Trump rally where they ejected the Muslim woman, who I don’t think said anything at all…. That’s not how you conduct politics. You should expect protest. And she wasn’t even being disruptive.
However, the fact that Trump is snuggling up to white supremacists and spewing Islamophobic rhetoric is what pushed him to take action.
The other thing was these robocalls for Trump made by this white supremacist group, the American Freedom Party. There were robocalls in Iowa where the caller was saying, ‘We don’t need more Muslims in our country, what we need is more educated white people.’
Sikhs have been the victims of hate crimes in the wake of the Paris attacks. A cab driver was attacked in a suburb of Chicago, and another man was assaulted in Fresno, California. Because of the turbans worn by Sikhs, they have become a target when ignorant bigots mistake them for Muslims.
Singh says the answer is not to try to explain that they are an entirely different religion from Islam because that doesn’t address the root problem.
If you really want to take on hate crimes against Sikhs as they happen here in the US, you can’t just take it on as simply advocacy for Sikhs. You can’t just say, ‘We aren’t Muslims, stop attacking us.’ You need to talk about the larger problem, which is Islamophobia. You have to stand up against that.
Singh says even though he was well aware that other protesters have been attacked by Trump supporters, he wasn’t particularly afraid of physical harm. He said that after he and his friend held up the ‘Stop Hate’ banner, they saw security coming for them.
At that point, Singh “yelled out that the campaign was giving shelter to white supremacists and to right-wing extremists.”
Then the Trump official was shoving me and yelling, ‘You have to get out of here. You have to get out of here.’ He wasn’t telling me and then waiting; he was shoving me. The police officer came up kind of behind him and was saying the same thing.
Singh’s description of the rally during the moments he and his friend were being dragged from the rally are chilling. He said when the chanting started it felt like a “mini-Nuremberg rally,” which is not surprising considering Trump has been compared to Hitler often during his campaign.
All I remember is that people were yelling “Trump!” They are trained to kind of just yell, “Trump! Trump! Trump! Trump!” They all immediately started yelling it like a little mini-Nuremberg rally. It was intense, but it was also in a school gym, so it was a little bit strange. It was like a fascist rally in a school gym.
Singh said although he supports free speech, and doesn’t think that hate-speech should be banned, he did feel compelled to respond to the hateful and Islamophobic rhetoric that continually pours forth from Donald Trump’s mouth.
Whether his candidacy emboldens those right-wing elements into political organizing and further ferments extremism, that’s something worth at least talking about and voicing a response to. The goal doesn’t necessarily have to be to shut this sort of speech down, but there needs to be a response, and that’s the context in which I saw my actions.
Featured image via video screen capture