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Trump Invited To Iowa Mosque. Imam: He's A Great Man With Bad Ideas


Let's hear from a voter in Iowa. He's a registered Republican. His name is Taha Tawil. And he is the imam at that Mother Mosque of America in Cedar Rapids. Mr. Tawil recently extended an invitation to Donald Trump, hoping the candidate might come to the mosque to chat. I asked Mr. Tawil what motivated him.

TAHA TAWIL: I see Donald Trump as a great man going around with bad ideas. And the thing that we saw, we need to invite him to let the rationale and the logic and the reason be overwhelming instead of emotions and rhetoric and propaganda upon his own fellow citizens.

GREENE: Has he responded to your invitation yet?

TAWIL: No, nobody responded. And we are following it with a written invitation this week.

GREENE: Well, you say that he is a great man with bad ideas right now. So I wonder - if you had the chance to bring him to your mosque and sit down face-to-face, what exactly would you tell him?

TAWIL: We want him to know that we are, you know, with him on so many of his ideas about safety and security for our country. And we want him to know that we are a big resource. So he can use us in his endeavor instead of alienating us and going wild, you know, with those ads that he had. Many people are right now - have Islamophobia already. And now with him running and increasing this Islamophobia, now we're getting back to the '30s and '40s in this country.

GREENE: So you're saying that if he sat down with a community of Muslims, you're thinking that might change his mind about, you know, say the policy that he proposed, which was to close the borders to Muslims coming into this country for, you know, an indefinite period of time. You think you could change his mind there?

TAWIL: We don't know. We don't know, but it is just a voice of logic. It's a voice of reason. And diversity in America is the source of its greatness. So the whole idea, I think, it's like this. It goes, all men are equal. That's the Constitution. We are one nation under God. And we don't see him doing that. We are not seeing him applying the Constitution.

GREENE: Well, I wonder - given everything you've said about what you're not happy with right now, tell me what you like about Donald Trump. You described him as a great man.

TAWIL: Well, what I like about him - his charisma, that he is going forward in his campaign, promising to build America, to be the savior of America. And that's great. That's why we said we need someone to think this way. But we don't want him only to take one community in America and run with it and leave the rest of us behind.

GREENE: You're a registered Republican, right?

TAWIL: Yes, I am.

GREENE: Could you see a chance of voting for Donald Trump depending on how this conversation goes?

TAWIL: Yes, if he has sufficient evidence absolutely. Many of my members, they told me yes, he has good ideas. And we want to stop this radical Islam. And the way to do that is to join the Muslim community in the fight against it.

GREENE: Are there other Republican candidates right now who appeal to you?

TAWIL: Well, that's personal. I don't want to - I am not in politics.

GREENE: OK, understood.

TAWIL: But I do my best to do the right thing - those who support the values of families and the values of our country.

GREENE: Well, Mr. Tawil, I really enjoyed talking to you. And I'm very eager to meet you. We're going to be coming and bringing our show to Iowa very soon - right before the caucuses. So I'd love the chance to sit down with you and meet you in person.

TAWIL: Absolutely, it will be my pleasure, too, Mr. David.

GREENE: Thank you so much for talking to us. We really appreciate the time.

TAWIL: God bless you and God bless America. Thank you, sir.

GREENE: Taha Tawil is the imam at the Mother Mosque of America in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Corrected: January 12, 2016 at 11:00 PM CST
The Mother Mosque of America in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is not the oldest mosque in North America, as a line on this page previously stated. It is one of the oldest.
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