A newly elected Virginia state House delegate who is Muslim said he was harassed by protesters and asked how he planned to implement Sharia law at his first town hall.
Del. Ibraheem Samirah said he's disappointed that the small group of protesters attacked his faith at a Saturday event in Northern Virginia.
Samirah said protesters carried signs denouncing Sharia law and made pointed comments attacking his faith. He said the attacks were especially troubling because they came during Ramadan, the Muslim holy month marked by dawn to dusk fasting.
On video of the town hall, and audience member asks, “What would be the best way, do you think, to accommodate the introduction of Sharia law into the commonwealth?”
“We live in a secular democracy, and in a secular democracy there’s separation between church and state,” Samirah replied. “That’s the foundation of the government of the United States of America.”
Samirah, a Democrat, says anti-Muslim rhetoric has flared up since he won a special election earlier this year to represent a Northern Virginia district.
“I think I have trust in my constituents to be able to decide for the fact that I’m being discriminated against,” Samirah said.
During his campaign, Samirah was criticized for anti-Israel comments he made in college. He’s since apologized and condemned anti-Semitism.
“There’s been a lid blown off on what’s considered acceptable speech, not acceptable speech, and haters are empowered right now,” said Rob Lattin of the Anti-Defamation League. “We’re seeing it all across the country from white supremacists to far leftists.”
Samirah plans to have more town halls and hopes people will want to discuss his policies.
“Everybody that wants to come and ask whatever they want about policy is more than welcome to do so, but those that will come and discriminate against me because of my background, they’re going to face a reaction from me where I’m going to call it out as it is,” he said.
Sharia is Islamic law, as derived from the Quran and the traditions of Islam.