Noah wasn't the only draw. Well-known Muslim Americans, including Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib and Women's March organizer Linda Sarsour, spoke to large crowds. The most popular person, however, was a 77-year-old Jewish man born and bred in Brooklyn. I'm speaking of 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, of course. While Noah, Tlaib and Sarsour attracted the attention of many, Sanders packed the venue that held nearly 7,000 -- receiving several standing ovations.
Fellow 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro also spoke. This was part of ISNA's first ever presidential forum, as the Muslim community strives to engage in politics on all levels. Castro, a Catholic, received a great reception from the audience, especially when he declared
, "Muslim Americans for generations have been part of the fabric of our American family. They have helped make America the great nation it is, and we need to fully embrace it."
But the night truly belonged to Sanders, or "Uncle Bernie," as many Muslims affectionately refer to the junior senator from Vermont. And the reason for that is simple: Sanders has worked hard to earn the support of the Muslim community. It began during the 2016 presidential primary when he was running against Hillary Clinton. Many in the Muslim community were wary of Clinton, given her support of the Iraq War. Sanders opposed the war -- a fact of which he reminded the audience on Saturday, earning him loud applause.
And, during the 2016 campaign, Sanders was very passionate in standing up for our community and opposing then-candidate Donald Trump's hateful lies about Muslims. For example, in December 2015, when Trump repeated the debunked tale that Muslims in New Jersey had cheered the 9/11 attack, Sanders slammed Trump
as a "pathological liar."
Sanders also did something not often heard from mainstream politicians -- and that's speak of Palestinians as human beings. He told the audience
at an April 2016 debate with Clinton that if we ever want to achieve peace in the Middle East, "we are going to have to treat the Palestinian people with respect and dignity."
It's no surprise that in the 2016 Michigan Democratic primary, a state that boasts a sizable Muslim population, the Muslim community came out in large numbers
for Sanders and were credited with playing a role in his upset victory over Clinton.
And, since 2016, Sanders has also been outspoken on issues that have impacted the Muslim community, including Trump's travel ban,