CLEVELAND—I was in town for only an hour before a man dressed like George Washington told me my religion was evil. He was a delegate from Arizona named John Rosado, and over the next few minutes he proceeded to explain the fundamentals of Islam to me. This was the first—but not the last—time during the Republican National Convention that a man dressed in a colonial outfit tried schooling me, a Muslim, on Islam.
Muslims often find themselves having to defend their faith to people who maintain the religion is inherently violent. Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric—a religious immigration test, mosque surveillance, suggestions that the faith is at war with America—has only further inflamed the public’s misconceptions. In Cleveland, all that ugly demagoguery came to a head.
In the video above, I documented my conversations with Republicans who fear Islam to one degree or another. Watch to see how they justified their anti-Muslim fears and defended their anti-Muslim candidate to a Muslim’s face.