TEXAS - A Muslim woman ejected from a rally held by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump while engaging in a silent protest said she wanted to make his backers recognise they are supporting "hateful rhetoric".
Ms Rose Hamid, a 56-year-old flight attendant from North Carolina, stood up silently in the stands directly behind Mr Trump during last Friday night's rally in South Carolina, when the billionaire businessman suggested that refugees fleeing violence in Syria were affiliated with militants.
She was wearing a white headscarf and a T-shirt made by her son, emblazoned with the words "Salam, I come in peace".
Ms Hamid, who identifies herself as a Democrat, said she went to the rally because she wanted Mr Trump's supporters to meet a Muslim in real life. As she stood, people in the crowd around her started yelling: "Trump! Trump!"
Soon after, security officers showed up and told her and a friend they had to leave, she said.
"They didn't even tell us we were causing a disturbance," she said. "They just said, 'Come with me, come with me.'"
Ms Hamid said she was later told she was trespassing at a private event. She also said one Trump supporter bawled at her: "You have a bomb, you have a bomb."
She told CNN after the rally: "The ugliness really came out fast and that's really scary."
Ms Hamid said in a phone interview from her home in Charlotte: "I get why he's popular. He's an entertainer, he's engaging... he even has valid points in some cases."
Referring to Mr Trump's supporters, she added: "But they have to recognise what they're supporting. His ramping up of his hateful rhetoric is just not what America is, and it's not who we are as a country."
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim advocacy group, called on Mr Trump to apologise, after the incident ignited a social media firestorm.
Said the group's executive director Nihad Awad: "The image of a Muslim woman being abused and ejected from a political rally sends a chilling message to American Muslims and to all those who value our nation's traditions of religious diversity and civic participation."
Ohio Governor John Kasich, also a Republican presidential hopeful, said the rally crowd's response was inappropriate.
"We don't need to be shouting and booing and scaring somebody who decided to stand up and have some sort of silent protest," he said on Saturday.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE