VERMONT – Vermont Democratic Party has elected the states’ first Muslim party chairman, a few hours before the new US administration rolls out a new version of what critics call a ‘Muslim ban’.
“To have a Muslim and immigrant to be the state party chair sends a really strong message to Trump and his type of politics that this is not where the country is at,” Faisal Gill, who was elected Saturday, told NBC News on Monday, March 6.
US President Trump signed a revised executive order on Monday banning citizens from six Muslim-majority nations from traveling to the United States but removing Iraq from the list, after his controversial first attempt was blocked in the courts.
The new order keeps a 90-day ban on travel to the United States by citizens of Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.
Iraq was taken off the banned list because the Iraqi government has imposed new vetting procedures, such as heightened visa screening and data sharing, and because of its work with the United States in countering Islamic State militants, a senior White House official said.
Gill is an outsider in ultra-white, ultra-liberal Vermont in many ways. In a state that is nearly 95 percent white, a Pakistani-born former Republican from Virginia stands out.
“Us and Wyoming keep going back and forth for least diverse,” Gill quipped.
H started his political career as a Republican, which earned him a position in the Department of Homeland Security under George W. Bush.
Accused by far-right activists of hidden ties with shady Muslim groups, he left the Republican Party after his name was cleared.
He became a Democrat and moved to California, where he volunteered on campaigns, before moving again to Vermont.
“The Republican Party basically has embraced this intense level of hatred and, to me, it’s no surprise that it led to Donald Trump,” he said.
“The Republican Party is just not a party that speaks to minorities anymore.”