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National

Muslim-American Trump Voter Remains Hopeful After Speech In Saudi Arabia

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Lastly, we wanted to get perspective from a Muslim American who says she voted for Donald Trump. Asra Nomani is an activist and a writer. For example, she's has organized demonstrations to allow women to pray in the main sanctuaries of mosques rather than in separate women's sections. She's the author of "Standing Alone: An American Woman's Struggle For The Soul Of Islam." And she's with us now from her home office in Falls Church, Va. Asra Nomani, thanks so much for speaking with us once again.

ASRA NOMANI: Oh, thank you so much, Michel.

MARTIN: Now, you've expressed the view that Islam does have a problem with terrorism. Today, President Trump said, quote, "that this is not a battle between different faiths, different sects or different civilizations. This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life and decent people all in the name of religion." Now, some people reacting to this speech today are hearing this is a major shift from his rhetoric on the campaign trail. I wanted to ask you how do you react to it?

NOMANI: Well, I was listening really carefully. You know, quite honestly, I was a little bit sick to my stomach on Saturday watching the regalia on the celebration of President Trump's arrival in Saudi Arabia. And what I heard is the words where President Trump said that means honestly confronting the crisis of Islamic extremism.

What is important to me is that he went into the belly of the beast and in a crazy way proved to me, again, his sort of diabolical genius. He went there. He did the sword dance. He got the golden necklace, but he had before him heads of states of all of these countries that need to be part of the solution and recognizing that there's an ideological problem inside of our community that's the crisis of the day is what he presented to them. And that was music to my ears.

MARTIN: Back up for a minute, you said that you were sick to your stomach when you saw the pomp and circumstance of the Saturday arrival. And why sick to your stomach?

NOMANI: I've lived for my entire lifetime with this extremist ideology, and that has come out of the government of Saudi Arabia. The Saudis have corrupted and brainwashed the minds of entire generations since the 1970s with their Wahhabism. And this is the ultimate art of the deal that I hope Donald Trump will be able to pull off - incentivize this country to eliminate this ideology. That is my dream in terms of why I cast my vote. Like, it's not pretty, and that's why I acknowledged this that I was just sick to my stomach yesterday. But I remain hopeful.

MARTIN: That's writer and Trump supporter Asra Nomani speaking to us from Virginia. Asra, thanks so much for speaking with us.

NOMANI: Thank you so much, Michel, and peace to everyone. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.