When Sajid Tarar, the 56-year-old Pakistani-born founder of American Muslims for Trump, took the stage at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday night, it was intended to be a moment of multicultural unity amidst a convention already marred by angry floor fights and baffling screw-ups.
Tapped to lead one of the RNC's many moments of prayer, Tarar was there to show the Republicans, and the world, that despite his onetime promise to ban all Muslims from entering the United States, Donald Trump still had supporters within the Muslim community. It was a message, however, that at least one convention attendee was entirely unwilling to entertain.
While Tarar lead the hall in a prayer "for a strong America, for a safe America," which asked God "to make us strong to fight terrorism all over the world," an as-of-yet unidentified delegate reportedly screamed "No Islam!"…to the apparent chagrin of those nearby.
While itself an isolated incident, the heckling is emblematic of a larger problem faced by the Republican party, now officially headed by a candidate whose racist rhetoric regarding immigrants has helped surface an ugly undercurrent of crass bigotry among the GOP base. While Trump has halfheartedly walked back his proposed "Muslim ban," the damage is done; "No Islam!" may be outside the realm of civil political discourse among Republicans—but only just.
Tarar's prayer can be seen below:
Speaking with CNN after delivering Tuesday night's closing prayer, Tarar lauded Trump, explaining: "He's anti-political correctness. He just says whatever he feels like it. Whatever comes in his mind, obviously he just says. And this is what we want. We are sick of traditional politicians."
When asked by anchor Dana Bash whether he heard the anti-Islam heckling, Tarar said that while he hadn't: "That's one of the reasons that I'm here, that's one of the reasons that my organization is to stand up, and tell Americans that all of us, we are not bad people. We are living here, we are part of American fabric. And we will stand behind America. The safety of America is our number one priority as well.
"And of course there will be some percentage of people of those will be always upset," Tarar admitted. "Everybody's looking at the picture from different angles and have different opinions. You cannot stop some of them people. There will be a percentage."
"But I'm here today, I'm a proud American. I love this country more than my life. And I mean it."