"'The new Obama": Will Abdul El-Sayed be America's first Muslim governor?

“I believe in a separation of church and state,” he started, making a note that John F Kennedy’s Catholicism was also a turning point in American politics.

“I can tell you that my ability to practice my faith in person, in my own home, when I choose to, where I’m allowed to, because of freedoms in this country have everything to do with that separation of church and state,” he said. “If I am going to want to be able to put my face on the ground 34 times a day, like I do, because I’m Muslim, I want to make sure no one can take that right away from me. And I will not take that right away from anyone else.”

He received an enormous round of applause after answering the question – in a nearly completely white and Christian room – and a standing ovation at the end of the event, that went over time by almost an hour.