EDISON, NJ — South Asian community leaders gathered outside the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center Saturday afternoon to protest the Donald Trump Rally hosted by the Hindu Republication Coalition, through a press conference and rally of their own.
The rally and subsequent press conference drew more than 50 members of New Jersey’s South Asian community. Over 15 elected and party officials attended from the federal, state and local levels including Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr., Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, Monmouth County Democratic Chairman Vin Gopal and more.
Congressman Pallone condemned Trump’s comments against Muslims and immigrants and said his New Jersey appearance was just meant to drive more divisiveness.
The event was organized by South Asians for Hillary New Jersey State Representative Amit Jani and the general South Asian community throughout the state, including the South Asian American Caucus, once indications were given that Trump would be visiting Edison earlier this week.
“We don’t think it’s right for someone from out of the state to come here and raise political issues with our faith and say they speak for over 3.4 million Indian-Americans across the country, even more Muslim-Americans, and the South Asian communities as a whole,” said Jani.
Assemblyman Raj Mukherji gave an inspiring speech, citing his background as a proud South Asian, U.S. Marine and Hindu.
“If you are a real Hindu, you are also a Muslim; if you are a real Hindu, you are also a Christian; if you are a real Hindu, you are also a Jew,” he said. “Because that is what my diaspora community believes in, and that is why we are overwhelmingly going to elect Hillary Clinton as the next President of the United States.”
Muslim community leaders Shariq Ahmad, Sam Khan and Imtiaz Syed joined Hindu community leaders Raju Patel and Sunita Viswanath with the Coalition of Progressive Hindus to speak at the press conference as well. The rally also featured a large contingent of college students from Rutgers University, led by student leader Mohamed Asker, who also spoke at the press conference.
The full list of elected and party officials included Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr., Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, Assemblyman Craig Coughlin, Middlesex County Democratic Chairman Kevin McCabe, Monmouth County Democratic Chairman Vin Gopal, Middlesex County Democratic Vice Chair Beatrice Moskowitz, Middlesex County Freeholder Charles Tomaro, Middlesex County Freeholder Kenneth Armwood, Highland Park Mayor Gayle Brill Mittler, Highland Park Councilwoman Elsie Foster-Dublin, Edison Councilwoman Sapana Shah, Edison Councilman Ajay Patil, North Brunswick Councilwoman Shanti Narra, West Windsor Councilwoman Ayesha Hamilton, and North Brunswick Board of Education Member Deven Patel.