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Melissa Mark-Viverito, others decry call to close borders to Muslims

New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, center,

New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, center, council members and state officials gather at the City Hall steps to denounce Donald Trump's remarks on Dec. 9, 2015. Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang

New York City Council members, leaders of multiple faiths and community activists packed the steps of City Hall Wednesday to denounce Donald Trump’s call to deny Muslims entry into the United States.

About 250 people attended the rally calling for a united front against the Republican presidential candidate who on Monday proposed a ban on all Muslims entering the country.

Dozens of speakers said Trump’s values do not reflect those of a city and a nation built by immigrants. They also called on conservatives to speak out against him.

“He is a disgusting, racist demagogue who has no business running for president, period,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, a Democrat.

Khalif Latif, an imam at the Islamic Center at New York University, said he has worked to serve as an “antidote” to discrimination, meeting with Pope Francis and the Dalai Lama at interfaith events, but said he is often viewed as “poison” because of his faith.

“The amplification of extreme voices has to be drowned out by our coming together,” said Latif. “The ignorance of ISIS or the Republican right can no longer be the basis of how we function in diverse societies.”

Jewish, Christian and Buddhist leaders said an attack on their Muslim “brothers and sisters” is an attack on them.

A heckler briefly disrupted the rally, shouting her support for Trump, a Manhattan real estate developer and front-runner for the GOP nomination. “Long live Donald Trump,” she said.

Trump said he wants a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims at the border, casting it as a temporary response to terrorism.

In a statement Wednesday, he said of Mark-Viverito: “Perhaps she should focus on taking care of the filthy conditions of New York City, the ever expanding homeless population and lowering taxes, along with Mayor de Blasio, widely considered the worst mayor in the United States.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio was not at the event, but on Monday condemned Trump’s “dangerous, dangerous statement” about Muslims.

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