.@neal_tapio joins the Interfaith Coalition for a group photo. Immediately following, Sen Tapio started an impromptu press conference with a racist fueled rant filled with misinformation. #sdleg #HifromSD pic.twitter.com/7QzKoc4WuL— South Dakota Voices for Justice (@sdv4justice) January 10, 2018
A state senator from South Dakota unleashed his Islamophobia during an interfaith gathering, even as he agreed to take a photo with the group.
South Dakota Sen. Neal Tapio, a Republican, launched an Islamophobic rant after his photograph was taken with a group of different religious leaders at the capitol building in Pierre.
Calling the gathering a “political movement,” Tapio said that Islamic countries are against freedom of religion, then used that extremely flawed justification to defend his anti-immigration stance.
“If you don’t have the freedom to leave a religion, is there a freedom of religion? …That’s the question we have to asks ourselves as a state,” he told the group.
When his logic was questioned, he doubled down: “When 14 Islamic countries kill you for leaving Islam, don’t you think we would want to keep those people out?”
As the racist rant continued and Tapio started talking to the press, the religious leaders broke out in song, singing “America the Beautiful.”
Among the group of 50 leaders of different religious denominations was Ismael Mulamba, a Muslim who joked that his mother had converted to Lutheran.
At some point after Tapio had already left, Mulamba cited a Quran verse in response to Tapio’s comments regarding his religion.
“There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion,” the verse states.
Prior to the interfaith event, Tapio had accused the interfaith group of feeling “contempt for those Americans concerned about an endless war on terror.” In a press release published one day before the event, he said that it’s the patriotic American’s responsibility “to identify the real source of terror and to keep that hateful and deadly ideology out of the United States, out of South Dakota and out of our local communities.”
Describing Islam as a “hateful and deadly ideology,” the lawmaker went on to praise the military families of South Dakota.
After Tapio’s very anti-Islam rants, Mohammed Sharif, director of the Islamic Center of Sioux Falls, shot back, letting people like the lawmaker know South Dakota’s Muslims aren’t going anywhere.
“They might not like seeing us here, but we’re going to continue to be here. We will keep representing our communities,” he assured reporters.
While President Donald Trump took his Islamophobic rhetoric straight to the White House, we cannot let hate and fear divide us locally. That's why groups like this one must continue to do all in their power to dispel the myth that people of different religions can't coexist. That's the only way to continue proving people like Tapio wrong.
Banner/Thumbnail Credit: Pixabay, Fuzz