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Indianapolis Muslims Tell Their Stories During Senator's Press Conference

Sarah Stierch

Indianapolis Republican Senator Mike Delph says he felt morally compelled to share the stories of proud, law-abiding Muslim-Americans in the wake of terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino.  During a press conference Tuesday, members of Indiana’s Islamic community decried the attacks perpetrated by what they say are not Muslims, but criminals and terrorists.

Delph says Muslim Americans have faced intense scrutiny in light of recent events, much of it unfair.  And the Republican lawmaker says that’s why he wants to introduce people like Saad Khairi.  Khairi, an Indianapolis neurosurgeon, says the comments of presidential candidate Donald Trump, who proposed banning all Muslims from entering the country, are a personal attack on all Muslims.

“The fact that this rhetoric has gone from backrooms in neo-Nazi locations to the forefront of politics in this country is terrifying to me as an American citizen," Khairi says.

Khairi says he never thought he’d have to defend his patriotism but has faith his fellow Americans will recognize the difference between terrorists and people of the Muslim faith.  And he says Muslims have to do a better job of speaking out.

“This is not Islam" he says. "These people are not Muslims.  This is the first step, as far as I’m concerned.”

Delph wouldn’t comment Tuesday on Governor Mike Pence’s decision to suspend the state’s resettlement program for Syrian refugees but says he will have something to say on that issue when the legislature convenes next month.  

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.
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