I am a Muslim and I love you, Egyptian-born man tells Trump

Published: February 22, 2016
High unemployment and poverty in Egypt have driven many young Egyptians to religious extremism, Elhamy Ibrahim says. PHOTO: REUTERS

High unemployment and poverty in Egypt have driven many young Egyptians to religious extremism, Elhamy Ibrahim says. PHOTO: REUTERS

Elhamy Ibrahim, 62, is a Muslim who does not like very many other Muslims these days, but loves Donald Trump.

The Egyptian-born businessman who came to the United States in 1981 and became a citizen two decades later said in an interview on Friday that he was alarmed by changes in Egypt, where, in his view, high unemployment and poverty have driven many young Egyptians to religious extremism.

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He strongly backs Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the US until authorities can determine if they pose a threat, even though such a ban could bring hassles for him if he traveled abroad.

That is one reason why Ibrahim, who says he does not attend a mosque regularly, approached the real estate mogul after a rally in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and called out “I’m a Muslim and I love you!”

NBC News published a video of the exchange, which took place the evening before Saturday’s Republican primary in South Carolina. Ibrahim proudly posted the video to his Facebook page.

Trump has stirred outrage not just in the US but around the world for comments that his critics say are anti-Muslim. But Trump’s fans, including Ibrahim, say Trump’s rhetoric, rather than being insensitive and exclusionary, addresses their fears of the violence they see occurring halfway across the globe.

My friend, the former Muslim extremist

“If he stopped me coming into the US, I’d say ‘fine’,” Ibrahim said. “If he said he wanted a loyalty test, I’d be the first to sign it.”

Self-imposed exile

As a university student, Ibrahim was jailed twice by the security services of the late President Anwar Sadat, then drafted to fight in Egypt’s 1973 war against Israel, where he was wounded by an explosion that left him blind in one eye.

He said Egyptian security officials ripped his toenails out with pliers because he had protested over Sadat not going to war with Israel.

After finishing his degree, he went to Yemen and became friends with the US Consul General in Sana’a, who persuaded him to come to the United States. He lived first in New York, then Baltimore, where he began buying real estate, and eventually moved to Myrtle Beach.

Despite the torture he suffered, Ibrahim is comfortable with Trump’s call to “bring back waterboarding and much worse” when interrogating terror suspects.

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“Torture is being used all over the world, today, tomorrow and yesterday,” Ibrahim said. “At least he’s saying it in public.”

His favorite thing about Trump is his business background.

“He’ll bring America back – I want to see America that I used to know, not the one that (President Barack) Obama and (former President) George W Bush destroyed.”

He also wants a president who sees Muslims the way he does. His mother and sister, who grew up wearing high heels and mid-length skirts, began to wear head scarves in the early 1990s to avoid harassment on the streets of Cairo. Egypt became a more conservative place.

“The media there, they make America seem evil,” he said. “They destroy the spirit of the younger generation, they make them stuck in religion like a bunch of sheep in a flock.”

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (11)

  • Milind
    Feb 22, 2016 - 2:45PM

    Sane guy!!! I bet there are many of these kind who refuse to speak out for fear of lynching, beheading and gore.Recommend

  • Tp
    Feb 22, 2016 - 2:55PM

    EU must do the same.Recommend

  • mohd danyal
    Feb 22, 2016 - 3:24PM

    And it seems you the insane guyRecommend

  • usman778
    Feb 22, 2016 - 4:30PM

    @mohd daniyal, just ignore @milind – he is a troll of indian origin and they desire nothing more in life than a response, recognition — anything to sustain their tattered self-esteem.Recommend

  • Saad
    Feb 22, 2016 - 5:26PM

    @mohd danyal: Truth hurts.Recommend

  • Kickass
    Feb 22, 2016 - 5:34PM

    The fool does not realise that it was the likes of Trump who destroyed Egyptian economy because it is a Muslim Country. But he confirms his uneducated background by such silly statement.Recommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Feb 22, 2016 - 7:49PM

    Muslims, Obama and Pope would make Trump next President of United States.Recommend

  • Rex Minor
    Feb 23, 2016 - 1:00AM

    It would seem that the guy wants to get near to Donald Trump definitely not with good intentions. One can not take an Egyptian for granted because of their history. The USA is the right place for him.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • freed
    Feb 23, 2016 - 2:18AM

    Poor guy lost his mind when he was tortured. Maybe he should have carried the argument further, some black guys sell drugs and terrorize the neighborhood, so ban all the black guys from coming into country. few of jewish bankers like madoff participated in financial fraud, put ban on that for while? Most of domestic terrorism is commited by white Supermist group, ban on them until its all sorted out. five times as many people die in us from shark attack than terrorism, ban on sharks as well. why does media always provide platform for the biggest idiots is beyond my comphrension. . Recommend

  • sophee
    Feb 23, 2016 - 2:35AM

    fortunately we have constitution to protect us from this type of Neanderthals’ type thinking. Innocent until proven guilty, bet he’s never heard of it. This guy and two killers from san barneido, CA are two sides of same coin, lacking tolerence for diiffering opnion and inflicting punishment indiscriminatly. Recommend

    Feb 23, 2016 - 7:43AM

    The description is like PakistanRecommend

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