A Muslim in Trump country

An Indian Muslim doctor named Ayaz Virji moved from Pennsylvania to rural Minnesota in 2014 to start a private practice in an area that didn’t have many doctors. His neighbors were friendly and everything was fine.

Until November 2016, when 60 percent of his neighbors and too many other alleged Americans decided that an emotionally stunted pussy grabbing conman was worthy of leading the most powerful country on the planet.

He wanted to leave his new home. But, as the Washington Post reports, his neighbors asked if he would be willing to give talks on being a Muslim. When he decided to do it, friends suggested he wear a bulletproof vest.

His third talk was in a community that overwhelmingly went for babyman. Here’s what happened:

He introduced himself as a doctor who had studied comparative religion at Georgetown with professors who were “the epitome of intellect and scholarship.” He said that what he learned was that if you want to understand Islam, or anything, “you have to be sincere” and “you have to use your brain.”

He looked around at the crowd.

“Because it’s easy to demonize. You know, ‘Everybody else is crazy and I’m just right,’ ” he said sharply. “And what kind of society does that create? That’s what ISIS does. That’s what these zealots do. Do we want to be like that? As Americans, don’t we want to be better than that? Webetter be better than that.”

He glanced at his outline and made the point that of course ­Islam has its zealots, and he condemns them.

“But that’s not what we’re talking about,” he said. “Because if you say, ‘That’s Islam,’ then that’s like me saying, ‘Well, Christianity is David Kor­esh,’ ” he said, referring to the cult leader.

He began pacing a bit. People were listening.

“Do you guys know who the LRA is?” he said, referring to the Lord’s Resistance Army, the cultish Ugandan rebel group blamed for the deaths of more than 100,000 people. “How many of you knew about that? I want you to raise your hands.”

Two hands went up.

“How come you don’t know about that?” Ayaz said. “How come only Islam has terrorism? The KKK had 5 million members in the 1920s. Lynching of black people was normal. It was routine. Why don’t we look at ourselves, too, as well as others? You have alternative facts? Then go to a different lecture.”

No one was getting up to leave.

“So, the purpose of today is to know one another,” Ayaz continued, going back to the outline.

He quoted Koran verses to explain how there is no compulsion to convert people to Islam, how extremists who believe that “hate me more than they hate you,” and how Islam means peace, and soon, he began to veer.

“So Islam is not what you see on TV, okay?” he said. “I know Fox News. It’s not news. It’s the WWF, okay? Don’t use them as my spokesperson. When you say, ‘These people are animals and we have to blow them up,’ don’t say, ‘This is Islam.’ It’s not. And 99.9 percent of us will agree we need to condemn these people and it hurts us even more because they’re saying that God said this? Muhammad said this? Never in a million years.”

His voice was rising. He was getting angry. Mandy looked at him.

“Breathe, breathe,” she said.

He began talking about Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who had referred to Islam as a “vicious cancer.”

“There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world! Now, according to General Flynn, we have to purge them? ‘We have to purge the world of Islam!’ ” he said in a mocking voice.

He was far off his outline now.

“You can sense I’m angry about that,” he said. “Wasn’t Jesus angry when he went into the temple and knocked over the tables of the money changers? He was angry. Injustice should make us angry! Okay? I am angry about the election. Because there is injustice there, and I have felt that within my family. And with the burning of mosques? And something like 150 bomb threats to Jewish synagogues? We should think.”

He looked at Duane again, a neighbor he had considered a friend before the election but had barely spoken to since.

“I’ll tell you. After the election, I was angry. And I was angry at my community for what they did. And I was ready to leave. Okay? I was ready to go and say you know what? Not my job. People think I’m a terrorist? I’m outta here. Fine. Find somebody else. The reason I’m here is not because I want to — my faith is very personal to me. I’m here because who else is going to do this, if not me?”

People were just sitting there, listening, not saying anything.

He asked them to imagine how they would feel if he judged Christians the way some people judge Muslims.

If he was dishonest, he said, he would pull out all the most violent Bible verses and say Christianity commands followers to kill.

If he was unfair, he would call the Christian cross a “symbol of torture.”

The room was quiet.

“How do you feel?” he asked.

“Love thy neighbor? Do unto others?”

“Why should I come to rural America and help people who think I’m a terrorist and say, ‘Let’s ban these people from coming here! Ban these doctors from coming here!’ ”

He looked at his outline.

“So, now let’s get to the issues . . . ” he said. “Who believes that Islam supports and promotes terrorism?”

No hands.

“None of you believe that? Really? Be honest! It’s okay! Nothing’s going to happen! I’m not a terrorist!”

Still no hands.

He moved on to what the Koran says about women, that they should be treated with dignity, and what Trump had said about grabbing women.

“What did he say? What did he say? You know what he said.”

He moved on to sharia.

“Sharia,” he said in a menacing voice. “Come on. You guys know. This is the Devil talking! Come on! You guys know this. Sharia. All Muslims want to impose sharia? Chop off your heads and gouge your eyes out? Right? Isn’t that what Muslims want to do? Isn’t that what I want to do?”

He kept going, veering on and off his outline, from arcane points of Islamic doctrine to the absurd things people say about Islam, which “are about as stupid as they come.”

He went over the history of Islam in America. He mentioned that Thomas Jefferson hosted what is considered the first iftar dinner, the meal that breaks the fast during the holy month of Ramadan. He talked about refugees. He talked about mercy. He talked and kept talking, and after an hour and a half in which not one person had left the room, Pastor Mandy tapped him on the arm and whispered that he needed to finish.

“I gotta do this,” he told her.

He had one last thing to say, about judgment. He read the Bible verse he had written down the night before from the Gospel of Matthew, which describes what Jesus will say to those who professed his name but failed him.

“And he will say, ‘I never knew you,’ ” Ayaz read. “ ‘Get away from me, you wicked people.’ ”

He looked up from his notes at the audience.

“He’s telling this to you,” Ayaz said. “So.”

He gathered his outline.

“Anyway,” he said. “I’m not going to talk about anything else.”

He sat down. He was exhausted.

I’m glad he was pissed off when he spoke. Because you can’t give a calm and rational speech to people who for the past decade have let Rush Limbaugh and Alex Jones and Fox News vomit into their head cavities.

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