Thousands of Indian Americans, donning turbans and Islamic caps heralded President Donald Trump and popular Indian Prime Minister Narendra “Howdi Modi” on Sunday as the two leaders who condemned “radical Islamic terrorism” and championed border security.
Marking the largest event in the nation’s history for a leader of a foreign nation, a crowd of over 50,000 Indians from across the United States filled the colossal NRG Stadium in Houston at the rock concert-like event, greeting Trump and the Indian head of state with thunderous applause.
Chants of “USA!” pummeled through the arena during the event, billed as “Howdy Modi: Shared Dreams, Bright Futures,” as women dressed in Indian garb danced to bhangra drums.
Amid the Indian government’s dispute with neighboring Pakistan as it seeks dominion over disputed territory in the Muslim majority state of Kashmir, Trump declared support for India’s “need for border security.”
He also vowed to help India fight “radical Islamic terrorism” in the region by expanding U.S. military cooperation with the country, rhetoric which could potentially be viewed as siding with India in its discord with Pakistan.
“We must protect our borders,” Trump said, evoking raucous cheers. “Border security is vital to the United States. Border security is vital to India, we understand that.”
“You enrich our culture. You uphold our values. You uplift our communities,” he told the crowd of Indian Americans. “You are proud to be Americans and we are truly proud to have you as Americans.”
In August, Modi jettisoned seven decades of autonomy in the Muslim majority state of Kashmir. Pakistan shot back by withdrawing diplomatic and trade ties with India. Last week, India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar declared India will ultimately rule over the entire state of Kashmir.
Islamic terrorists in Pakistan are driven by their hatred of India, Modi warned.
“People have put their hatred of India at the center of their political agenda. These are people who want unrest. These are people who support terrorism and nurture terrorism,” he said.
Modi indirectly blasted Pakistan, rhetorically asking the crowd who was responsible for the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai and the 2001 attacks in the U.S.
“You know them very well,” he said. “You know who they are. It’s not just you, the whole world knows who they are.”
Osama bin Laden was killed and captured in Pakistan, while several jihadis who perpetrated the September 11 attacks along with the terrorists who carried out the Mumbai attacks were Pakistani.
Trump also touted the advantageous impact “America First” policies and his administration’s tax cuts have had on the economy and job creation, underscoring the importance of stopping illegal immigration.
“Illegal immigration is deeply unfair to millions of wonderful legal immigrants who work hard and pay their taxes, follow our rules and obey our laws,” Trump said, as the crowd roared.
Democratic lawmakers prioritize illegal immigrants over American citizens, the president warned.
“We are going to take care of our Indian-American citizens before we take care of illegal immigrants that want to pour into our country,” he said. “You have never had a better friend as president than President Donald Trump.”
Standing alongside the president, Modi proclaimed Trump is “a friend of India” and “a great American president” who has a “strong resolve to make America great again.”
“His name is familiar to every person on the planet,” Modi said. “He was a household name and very popular even before he went onto occupy the highest office in this great country … from CEO to commander in chief, from the boardroom to the Oval Office, from studio to the global stage… He has left a deep and lasting impact everywhere.”
While Trump has praised Modi for being “a tough negotiator,” the Indian prime minister exclaimed, “he him himself is a master of the art of the deal and I am learning a lot from him.”
But diplomacy skills aren’t what make Trump great, Modi argued.
“I admire him for something more: his sense of leadership, a passion for America, a concern for every American, a belief in American future, and a strong resolve to make America great again and he has already made the American economy strong again,” he said.
Trump and Modi pumped their fists and waved as the event concluded. The two leaders then walked around the stadium together with their hands clasped, as Indian drums played and the surrounding crowd scurried towards the barricades to snap photos.
Modi invited Trump to join him at the NRG Stadium event when the two leaders met at the August G-7 Summit in France, Trump told reporters Sunday.
“I’m very close to the folks from India,” the president said. “I love India, and I have a lot of respect and a great friendship with the prime minister of India, and he said, ‘Would it be possible to do it?’ And I said, ‘I’ll make it possible.’”
While the GOP has sought out the Indian American vote for years, approximately 80 percent of Indian Americans voted for Hillary Clinton over Trump in 2016, according to the American Legal Defense and Education Fund.
Farmers in Inndia’s Jangaon district, however, reportedly revere the American president as a deity.
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