On subjects such as Uighurs and the Saudi war in Yemen, presidential candidate makes an impression at the Islamic Society of North America convention
Senator Bernie Sanders, one of the leading candidates seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, received a rousing welcome at a special event at the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) convention, where he was given a standing ovation and made his presidential pitch to Muslims of America.
Organisers said some 6,000 people attended the event on Saturday evening, which also saw fellow Democrat candidate Julian Castro address the close-to-capacity crowd at the George R Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas.
US Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders with Debbie Almontaser, founding principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy, at the Islamic Society of North America’s Convention in Houston, Texas, on Saturday (Reuters)
Sanders and Castro were the only two Democratic candidates to accept ISNA’s invitation to attend the event for a community that has felt increasingly marginalised under the presidency of Donald Trump. Attendees made no bones as to who they had come to see.
“I feel strongly that the divisiveness and bigotry that Trump has introduced in the country can only be counteracted by a person like Bernie Sanders,” said Moosa Khan, who stood up to applaud the Vermont senator a number of times during his address.
“He made an effort to come here and talk and listen. He is showing his support for our community and he definitely has my vote.”
In contrast to Castro, Sanders’ address and policy talking points seemed to have been tailored to appeal to some of the pressing concerns of the American Muslim community.
Sanders also said that, as US president, he would hold China to account for its persecution of the Uighurs in Xinjiang province. He also described India’s unilateral decision in August to revoke the semi-autonomous status of Kashmir and impose a communication blockade and military siege on the valley as “unacceptable”.
He then chastised “political elites in both the Republican and Democratic parties” for pursuing “endless wars and interventions”.
Sanders said that, unlike Trump, who has “an affection for authoritarian regimes around the world,” he “would make democracy and human rights a priority for the United States of America”.