WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — On the same day the Republican presidential nominee told a mostly white crowd in Maine that he would unite the United States under “one god,” he appeared in front of a crowd of thousands of people of Indian extraction and lit a Hindu ceremonial candle.
“I am a big fan of Hindu and a big fan of India,” he said, to loud cheers from a crowd composed of many American citizens, but also many, who are at various stages along the path to citizenship or just visiting from India.
The rally, which was held in New Jersey, was organized by the Republican Hindu Coalition, whose founder, Shalabh Kumar, is one of Trump’s biggest fundraisers. Trump returned Kumar’s generosity with a remarkably warm speech toward Hindus and India in which he said the two nations would be “best friends.”
“There won’t be any relationship more important to us,” said Trump.
The nominee stuck entirely to praise for India and its prime minister, Narendra Modi, as well as his standard policy positions, which he read from a teleprompter.
Hindu supporters of Trump at the event said they find common ground with the candidate on his perceived toughness against “radical Islamic terror,” as well as promises of low taxes. However, Trump has also often said he would curtail immigration to the United States, which seemed at odds in a room filled with immigrants and those hoping to become Americans. The organizers printed hundreds of signs for attendees to hold, including many that said “Trump for faster green cards.”
During one moment of his speech, Trump received great applause when he compared himself alike to that of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who he called a “great man.” During his condemnation of terrorism and the Islamic State, he included a jab at Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
“We will stand shoulder to shoulder with India in sharing intelligence and keeping our people safe mutually,” he said. “This is so important in the age of ISIS, the barbaric threat Hillary Clinton has unleashed on the entire world.”
The linkage of Islam and terrorism was made more explicit by Hindu supporters of Trump who were passing out fliers outside the convention center. A man named Vincent Bruno caught the attention of many who were milling about while waiting to enter when he confronted a small group of protesters. Bruno is a gay man, married to a Venezuelan, who converted to Hinduism from what he called “paganism” because he found the former religion to be more “refined and intact.”
“If you support Muslims, you support rape culture,” he said, during a nearly three-minute long attempt to shout out the protesters, who were carrying signs that said “South Asians Dump Trump.”