Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) invited a Muslim college student onstage with him during his speech in Fairfax, Virginia on Wednesday after she alluded to Islamophobic political rhetoric, Think Progress reported.
“As an American Muslim student who aspires to change the world currently majoring in International Conflict Analysis and Resolution — and I hope to be a human rights attorney — hearing the rhetoric that’s going on in the media makes me sick,” George Mason University senior Remaz Abdelgader told Sanders, adding. “As an individual, I’m constantly trying to raise awareness and make sure that everyone is treated equally in this country. As the next president of the United States, what do you think about that?”
As Abdelgader spoke, Sanders invited her toward the stage and hugged her. As she finished her question, the senator led her to his podium by the hand before delivering his answer.
“For many years in this country, you have had politicians — I’m old enough to know this — who have played black off against white. They told white workers who were earning pennies an hour, ‘Hey, you think you’re in trouble, but you’re better off than the blacks,'” he said. “And they told straight people, ‘You’re better off than those gay people.’ And they pitted men against women. We play one group off against another. The rich got richer [while] everybody else was fighting each other. Our job is to build a nation in which we all stand together as one people.”
The Democratic presidential candidate also said Abdelgader was “absolutely correct” in mentioning the anger being generated toward not only Muslims, but immigrants.
“If we stand for anything, we have got to stand together and end all forms of racism, and I will lead that effort as president of the United States,” he said.
Watch Sanders’ remarks, as posted online on Wednesday, below.