WATCH: Veterans Escorted From Trump Rally After Challenging Islamophobia
February 19, 2016
Ten veterans from Veterans Challenge Islamophobia unfurled a 10-foot banner during Trump's speech in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina today. The banner read: “Mr. Trump: Veterans are not props for hate. We stand with our Muslim sisters and brothers.”
The U.S. veterans who launched the effort have served in Afghanistan, Iraq and Vietnam. Many were also decorated for their valor. The veterans, some of whom hail from the organization Iraq Veterans Against the War, were forcibly escorted outside after Trump supporters waved signs while chanting Trump’s name. But the group's actions will not be deterred.
Veterans Challenge Islamophobia plans to take its campaign to other primary states and will fly a similar banner in Las Vegas on Monday evening at Trump’s event there. They say they will continue until Trump and other Republican candidates cease their discriminatory attacks on Muslims.
"Mr. Trump's hateful rhetoric insults both my Islamic faith and my military service. As a U.S. Marine who served in Iraq, I find it shameful that a major presidential candidate would impugn my patriotism, or that of other Muslims, because of our faith," said Ramon Mejia, who served with the U.S. Marines in Iraq (2001-04).
"As an Army veteran, I deeply resent being used as a prop for intolerance by Mr. Trump. I enlisted in order to serve everyone in my country, including my Muslim sisters and brothers, and to protect constitutional freedoms like religious liberty," said Maggie Martin, who served three tours in Iraq and Kuwait with the U.S. Army (2001-06).
"As a medic in Afghanistan, I worked closely with Muslim interpreters who risked their lives to support our mission. I'm disgusted when I see candidates like Mr. Trump — who never served in the military — try to demonize Muslims for his own political gain. We need to make it very clear: Islam is not a national security threat," said Perry O’Brien, who served with the 82nd Airborne in Afghanistan (2001-04).
During his speech, Donald Trump did not respond directly to the protesters, but did make note of people who challenge him as security folded up the group's banner.
"We're going to make the wall 10 feet taller," Trump said. "And every time they protest, it's going to go up a little bit higher."
WATCH: Security removes veterans' group from South Carolina Trump event: