Jewish mayor ‘bars’ Trump from St. Petersburg
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Jewish mayor ‘bars’ Trump from St. Petersburg

While Rick Kriseman’s tweet was in jest, he shows opposition to anti-Muslim rhetoric by mimicking presidential wannabe’s language

Renee Ghert-Zand is a reporter and feature writer for The Times of Israel.

Sasha Murphy, of the ANSWER Coalition, leads demonstrators in a chant during a protest against Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's hosting 'Saturday Night Live' in New York, November 7, 2015. (AP/Patrick Sison)
Sasha Murphy, of the ANSWER Coalition, leads demonstrators in a chant during a protest against Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's hosting 'Saturday Night Live' in New York, November 7, 2015. (AP/Patrick Sison)

The Jewish mayor of St. Petersburg, Florida made it known on Monday that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was unwelcome in his city, following Trump’s suggestion the same day that the United States prevent all Muslims from entering the country.

And while it later emerged that Rick Kriseman’s threat to bar Trump from his city was just a joke, the sentiment expressed by the mayor was praised and shared by many in St. Petersburg, around the country and even overseas. Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said he wished did indeed have the power to ban Trump from his city.

Kriseman, a former Democratic Florida state legislator, sent his message to Trump via Twitter. “I am hereby barring Donald Trump from entering St. Petersburg until we fully understand the dangerous threat posed by all Trumps,” Kriseman posted.

The phrasing of the mayor’s Tweet echoed Trump’s statement calling for the barring of Muslims from entering the US.

“Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life,” Trump said.

A spokesman for Kriseman, confirmed for The Times of Israel that the mayor had no real intention of barring Trump from St. Petersburg, which is located on Florida’s gulf coast and has a population of 250,000, including approximately 26,000 Jews.

“The mayor’s social media remark was in jest, as he wished to highlight the ridiculousness of Mr. Trump’s policy proposal related to Muslims. St. Petersburg is a welcoming city of opportunity, where diversity is celebrated,” he said.

Kriseman himself answered a reply to his tweet answering if it was sarcasm with, “yeah. answering ridiculousness w/ridiculousness.”

Trump’s remarks, which the New York Times characterized as “an extraordinary escalation of rhetoric aimed at voters’ fears about members of the Islamic faith,” have generated a backlash from leaders of both parties. Many of Trump’s fellow Republicans were highly critical, including presidential candidate and former Florida governor Jeb Bush called Trump “unhinged,” while former vice president Dick Cheney saying that what Trump had suggested “goes against everything we believe in.”

According to Kriseman’s spokesman, the mayor was asked about Trump’s comments as he was participating in Hanukkah services last night with his family.

“The mayor spent some time thinking about the nature of the comments from Mr. Trump, and the danger inherent in language that paints an entire ethnic or religious group with one broad brush. Mayor Kriseman is right when he says history should have taught us better,” he said.

“The tweet from Mayor Kriseman was satirical, but there was nothing funny in the message of Mr. Trump’s comments. That kind of hatred poisons minds and moves us away from the work of our city, our state and our nation,” he added.

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