CLEVELAND, Ohio — The founder of “Muslims for Trump” delivered a prayer at the conclusion of the second day of the Republican National Convention on Tuesday, an inclusion that drew opposition from at least one member of the audience.
Sajid Tarar, a Baltimore-area resident who immigrated to the United States from Pakistan in the 1980’s, took the podium shortly before 11 p.m. local time to deliver the benediction.
He told reporters earlier in the day that he had obtained permission from the Trump campaign to participate in the convention.
“They asked me not only to do the benediction, but to speak at the convention,” Tarar told the Washington Post. “I have prepared a speech and I have been looking forward [to it].”
“O God, our nation is in need of a new leader, a commander, who will guide America along the path of righteousness,” he prayed Tuesday night as attendees bowed their heads. “We as Americans are ready for real hope and change, and ask for a tenacious leader who will be able to motivate this.”
“The qualities of this leader must reflect the qualities required to uplift Americans and truly make America great again,” Tarar continued. “Amen.”
Some in the crowd echoed back “amen,” but one man repeatedly chanted “no Islam” upon seeing what was happening at the convention.
“My obligation is to God. This is an abomination to God,” he said to those around him who told him to keep silent.
Kim Coley, who identifies as Christian, told reporters that she found the man’s vocal disagreement to be disrespectful, asserting that Jesus taught tolerance.
“He’s usurping God’s authority,” she claimed.
In addition to offering a benediction from the stage, Tarar referenced the Islamic religion during his speech, citing a quote from its founder, Muhammad.
“The prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said that we all have a piece of flesh in our bodies. If it is good, our whole is good. And if it is not, then the whole body is spoiled,” he said. “From this, we can infer the role of our leader as a representative of the United States of America. The values reflected by our leader must reflect the values that our Forefathers set in stone at [the] inception.”
Tarar has publicly expressed his support of Trump for several months, telling CNN’s Don Lemon in May that other Muslims “are coming, they are listening to his message and to think he is the only one who can save America in the future, but not only this, he has plans to understand Islam.”
He agrees with Trump that Muslims seeking to enter the U.S. should be vetted due to concerns about terrorism, and believes that Trump is not anti-Muslim, but only anti-terrorist.
“The Quran says you need to be loyal to the country where you live,” Tarar told Fusion earlier this year. “We have to do every possible thing to make our country safe.”
“This is my country and this is my kids’ country. That is my number one priority—the safety of America,” he said. “Donald Trump agrees with that.”
On Monday night, Trump supporter Mark Burns, who leads South Carolina’s Harvest Praise and Worship Center, led those gathered in prayer.
“Father God, in the name of Jesus, Lord we’re so thankful for the life of Donald Trump,” he said. “We’re thankful that you are guiding him, that you are giving him the words to unite this party, this country, that we together can defeat the liberal Democratic Party, to keep us divided and not united. Because we are the United States of America, and we are the conservative party under God.”
“[D]efeat every attack that comes against us. Protect the life of Donald Trump. Give him the words, give him the peace, give him the power and authority to be the next president of the United States of America,” he continued, before urging attendees to shout “amen.”
Paula White of Orlando’s New Destiny Christian Center also delivered a prayer at the opening of the convention.