(TNS) Dozens of protesters gathered Saturday at Lawyers Mall in Annapolis to talk about President Donald Trump.
This time, they were in support of him.
About 50 people of diverse background who turned out for the Making America Great Again, Already! rally wore Trump T-shirts and hats, posed for pictures with Trump signs and waved Trump flags to show their support for the president’s agenda. It is the same site where numerous rallies have been held with speakers who have been critical of the president.
Trump “has people against him … from within the party, from the media. We are here to support and endorse what he has been doing for the military and the economy,” said Sajid Tarar, a Muslim immigrant from Pakistan and founder of Muslim Americans for Trump.
The rally comes at a time of intense controversy for the president. An ABC News/Washington Post
poll from this month showed 66 percent of Americans said Trump has done more to divide the country than unite it.
He recently criticized NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality against African-Americans.
And the rally was held the same day as marches with speakers expected to be critical of the president were staged across the country in support of racial justice
. Another is planned Sunday at Lawyers Mall.
The rally, co-sponsored by Muslim Americans for Trump and Sikh Americans for Trump, was intended to bring together minority communities not typically associated with Trump’s largely white base and demonstrate support for Trump’s ideas.
Tarar has been a vocal Trump supporter from early on; he prayed onstage at the Republican National Convention and spoke favor of the then-candidate.
Trump’s statements about Muslims and Islam are not directed at the faith as a whole, Tarar said, nor at every Muslim American. It would be impossible, Tarar said, to cast blame on every person belonging to the world’s second-largest religion.
“As a Muslim, I saw him as a relief. I saw him as the person who can fight the terrorism,” Tarar said.
He said Trump’s travel ban, which originally blocked immigrants from Iran, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Sudan, isn’t a ban at all but a pause, to ensure thorough vetting of the people from these countries. The original restriction on travel from these six countries has expired and been replaced with an order that bans varying degrees of immigration from Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen.
Tarar and Sikh Americans for Trump founder Jesse Singh both immigrated to the US — “legally,” Singh told the crowd. Like Tarar, he attended the president’s inauguration.
Singh said when he first arrived in Dulles International Airport in Virginia, he saw a futuristic marvel in the sleek terminals and buses that whisked passengers to and fro. But the bus that dropped him off in 1986 is the bus that he is still taking today, adding that the more impressive airports are now the ones in his home country of India.
“Last year I went to India, and that airport I left is now looking futuristic,” Singh said. “When I came to Dulles Airport, the same 30-year-old bus with loose doors and torn carpet came to receive me. So, when Donald Trump says our infrastructure has gone down, he’s totally right.”
Other speakers, including Republican strategist and commentator Ivan Garcia-Hidalgo, praised the president’s crackdown on illegal immigration and promise to build a border wall.
At one point, a “Build that wall!” chant briefly broke out among the rally-goers.
Garcia-Hidalgo spoke of a booming economy, a low unemployment rate and a strong stock market, and defended Trump’s response to the devastation to Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria.
Michael Cohen, who serves as Trump’s personal lawyer, also spoke at the rally via phone and thanked those gathered for their support.
Congress has not yet approved funding for the border wall, but the Trump administration has announced companies that are building prototypes. Additionally, Congress has not passed any economic legislation, but the administration introduced a tax reform plan Wednesday.
Maryland is a predominantly blue state. More than 60 percent of state voters cast ballots for Hillary Clinton in the last presidential election, and she edged Trump by 6,016 votes in Anne Arundel County. But Marcus Anthony, a Fairfax County, Virginia, resident, said he attended the rally to “preserve the other side.”
“We live in a highly liberal area,” Marcus said. “As it is today, a lot of our side is continuously oppressed … It’s our responsibility to retain our perspectives.”
All minorities are not against the president, Singh said.
“Minorities have the same agenda as any other Americans,” he said. “We want America to be great again.”
©2017 The Capital (Annapolis, Md.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.