CEDAR RAPIDS — Appearing outside the Mother Mosque of America in Cedar Rapids, former Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley on Saturday condemned President Donald Trump’s order targeting immigrants from several mostly Muslim nations and vowed to join others in standing up against it.
The former Maryland governor, along with Democratic state Sen. Rob Hogg, state Rep. Liz Bennett and Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker, spoke out against the “bigoted ban” during a news conference.
“We need to stand up and we need to speak up because this was one piece Donald Trump promised,” he said. “The other pieces are registration of people based on their religious affiliation. We’ve seen this in Europe in other days and other times, and this does not lead to good things.”
The executive order has caused protests to spring up around the country as travelers were being detained at various international airports upon arrival.
If uncorrected, O’Malley said, the executive order could have a detrimental impact on the nation’s security at home and abroad.
“It plays right into (Islamic State terrorists) and their narrative about the United States of America — which is that we’re at war with Islam,” O’Malley said.
“We’re not. We’re at war with this cutthroat group of murderers called ISIL, but this sort of bigoted, adolescent stupidity by Donald Trump plays right into their hands.”
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In a separate interview, Imam Hassan Selim of the Islamic Center of Cedar Rapids called the order a departure from American values.
“It is a step toward an era that criminalizes faith, nationality and people of color. It flies in the face of the American values we hold dear,” he said. “ ... We must address terrorist acts based on evidence, and never single out an entire group of people based on their faith, their country of origin, or their skin color. Not only is it the right thing to do, it is more effective at keeping us safe. This executive order will make us weaker in the eyes of the world and in our own consciences.”
While O’Malley said he assumed Trump “was sincere in his fascist appeals,” there are others, including those who voted for him, who thought the Republican president’s campaign promises were rhetorical.
“What I hope, after this first week of all of his various orders, I hope various Republican members of Congress and Senate stand up like John McCain did on the torture,” he said.
O’Malley said he plans to continue challenging Trump and help rebuild the Democratic Party through local elections.
He was in Cedar Rapids for a fundraiser on behalf on a candidate in a special legislative election in Davenport.
“I’m going to do everything in my power to repurpose my political efforts to bring forward the new generation of leadership and mostly stick up, speak out and take action wherever I can to defend a true United States of America,” he said.