Donald Trump released his first television ad this week in Iowa and New Hampshire. In it, he promises to stop what he calls radical Islamic terrorism by creating a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States. Imam Taha Tahwil, director of the Mother Mosque in Cedar Rapids, has a less extreme, and more conversational, proposition: Trump should visit the mosque.
"We want him to come and talk to his fellow American citizens and explain to them what his agenda, what his program, and how we can be of help to him. So we are having a friendly invitation, a positive one, as Americans. And that's the way we solve our problems if we have any, by talking, by sitting together, by having face-to-face conversations."
Imam Tahwil says Trump and the members of his mosque, and of the Islamic faith, have a common enemy and that this is a time for banding together.
"We are against radical Islam. We want him to know that those radicals are killing more Muslims than anybody else, and that's why we as a team, we as Americans, we can work together to solve this issue and help him out, instead of creating division and creating fear and terrorizing the American community. That's wrong."
The invitation has come at a cost, however. While Imam Tahwil hasn't heard from the Trump campaign, since extending the invitation the mosque has received backlash from Trump's followers.
"Some of his followers have started emailing bad emails, and that is a shame. [...] I am telling you, our women are scared. They are fearing to get out to the public. Our children in the school are harassed. We are like the Jewish community during Germany time. We are like fearing like the black community in the 30s and 40s. We are like the other minorities, the Japanese. We are like now almost under siege with his rhetoric."
In this River to River interview, host Ben Kieffer speaks with Imam Tahwil about the invitation he extended to Trump and the reception of Muslims during this election season.