Donald Trump’s call to ban Muslims from entering the United States is an attack on patriotism and US values, says Michigan Congressman Dan Kildee, advocate for ex-Marine Amir Hekmati, who has been held in an Iranian prison since 2011.
“When I think about Muslims, I think about Amir Hekmati, a Muslim-American who served the United States honorably in the Marines,” Kildee said in a statement. “Amir risked his life for our country and now is imprisoned in Iran because of his service. To think that Amir Hekmati – a true patriot and Muslim – would be demonized in such a way by a leading presidential candidate is disgraceful. There’s no room in our country for such hateful rhetoric.”
Kildee joined politicians on both sides of the US political divide to condemn the controversial frontrunner for the Republican presidential candidacy after he called for a “total and complete shutdown” on Muslim entry into the country.
Amir Hekmati was arrested in August 2011 and has been held on espionage charges, despite continual calls for his release from Hekmati’s family and supporters, including Congressman Kildee.
During an event coinciding with the United Nations General Assembly in September, Kildee spoke briefly with Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Mohammad Zarif, about Hekmati’s case. Although Kildee said he believed Zarif was committed to resolving the issue, he admitted he was not “overly encouraged” — possibly hinting at the Rouhani administration’s limited ability to bring about such a release.
In his statement against Trump’s recent comments, Congressman Kildee said: “Donald Trump’s call to block all Muslims from entering the United States flies in the face of the values that make our country great. His comments are offensive and un-American.
With its conflation of terrorism and immigration, Trump’s statement is the latest in a string of attacks against ethnic groups in the United States — and ensures he remains firmly in the media spotlight. It also draws attention to the complexities and political fault lines that inevitably affect Amir Hekmati’s case. Although there has not been an official statement from the Iranian government about Trump’s comments, it is hard to see how what Kildee classifies as Trump’s “hateful rhetoric” can help in any way to bring about Hekmati’s quick release.
Hekmati Marks 32nd Birthday in Evin Prison
Iran Weekly Wire Podcast: Roland Elliott Brown speaks to Sarah Hekmati