Donald Trump’s statement Monday that all Muslims should be stopped from entering the U.S. has led to criticism from around the globe and across the political spectrum; a tweet by St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman criticizing Trump and jokingly barring the GOP presidential front-runner from entering the city had more than 13,000 retweets by Tuesday afternoon. It stems from the statement Trump read to supporters Monday at a campaign rally in South Carolina.
“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on. … Our country cannot be the victim of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in jihad. … There is a great hatred toward Americans by large segments of the Muslim population. … They want to change your religion. I don’t think so. I don’t think so. I don’t think so, not going to happen. … We have to stop the Muslims until we find out what’s going on. Does that make sense, by the way? Until we find out …”
In response to that statement from Trump, St. Pete’s Democratic Mayor Kriseman tweeted “I am hereby barring Donald Trump from entering St. Petersburg until we fully understand the dangerous threat posed by all Trumps.”
I am hereby barring Donald Trump from entering St. Petersburg until we fully understand the dangerous threat posed by all Trumps.
— Rick Kriseman (@Kriseman) December 8, 2015
Kriseman was not available for an interview but his chief of staff, Kevin King, says the Mayor was being sarcastic.
“Look, the Mayor’s remark was in jest. It was sarcastic. I think he wished to highlight the ridiculousness of Mr. Trump’s policy proposal related to Muslims coming to America. As you know, St. Petersburg is – we kind of pride ourselves on being a welcoming city of opportunity. We celebrate diversity here. And so the Mayor was clearly just trying to make a point.”
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King says even though Mayor Kriseman disagrees with Trump’s statement about barring Muslims from the U.S., St. Petersburg would not try to stop the Trump campaign if it decided to hold a rally in the city.
“Not at all, no. Donald Trump is welcome here. He’s welcome to spend his money here. …”
King says Mayor Kriseman is surprised at how the tweet has taken off.
“It was unexpected. You know, the Mayor certainly didn’t expect the Tweet to take off like that, or Facebook. But I think we sort of feel like it meets Mr. Trump where he is. There was obviously some silliness to the Mayor’s remarks because that’s what Mr. Trump’s policy proposal and his remarks deserve. I mean, we’re kind of meeting ridiculousness with ridiculousness. So I think we sort of hit a nerve. I mean people clearly — a lot of people are outraged by Donald Trump and what he’s doing and saying. So there’s a lot of positivity. But of course you’re always going to draw in a lot of negative, too. Donald Trump has a lot of supporters. So it’s making for some interesting social media.”
To find out how Muslims in St. Petersburg are responding to Trump’s call to ban anyone practicing the world’s second largest religion from entering the country, I reached out to a local Imam. Askia Muhammad Aquil is head of the Florida Conference of Muslim Americans.
“The danger is if you carry out that kind of Donald Trump’s – candidate Trump’s – logic to the extreme then the next thing you would do would be advocating branding Muslims on the chest or on the arms so that you know who they are and you can keep an eye on them. He’s already advocated spying in mosques across the country, etc. So, if that kind of thinking were allowed to go unexposed and unchallenged then you end up in the same kinds of situations that you’ve had in places like Burundi or of course in Nazi Germany.”
WMNF News requested an interview from three top Donald Trump campaign staffers in Florida but we did not hear back by air time.
Here’s how the Daily News responded:
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) December 8, 2015
Even songwriter David Rovics has written a tune about the latest from Trump, “God’s Gift to the Caliphate” …
Here’s an older tweet from Donald Trump:
The U.S. has enough problems without publicity seekers going out and openly mocking religion in order to provoke attacks and death. BE SMART
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 5, 2015
And here is a link to Think Progress’ list of Islamophobia in the 2016 election so far.