Trump condemned for retweeting fake Islamophobic image featuring Pelosi
Muslim groups in the US have condemned Donald Trump for retweeting a fake image showing leading Democrats Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi wearing an approximation of traditional Islamic clothing and standing in front of the Iranian flag.
“The image is a hodgepodge of anti-Muslim tropes and garb from many traditions including some that are frequently used to stereotype and attack Muslims,” Madihha Ahussain, special counsel for Muslim Advocates, a nonprofit group, said in a statement.
“It’s disappointing but not surprising that the president would use his massive Twitter platform to spread this kind of harmful, ignorant, anti-Muslim bigotry.”
Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or Cair, said Trump’s retweet of a “childish, undignified and offensive … Islamophobic image … further endangers American Muslims, Sikhs and members of other faiths who wear recognisable religious attire and are increasingly targeted by bigots nationwide.”
Trump retweeted the image on Monday, amid continuing controversy and international fallout over his approval of the drone strike assassination of Gen Qassem Suleimani, a top Iranian leader.
He also retweeted criticism of remarks that Pelosi, the House Speaker, made to ABC News on Sunday, about protests in Iran since Tehran admitted mistakenly shooting down an airliner, killing 176 people, after it launched missile strikes against US targets in Iraq.
Trump’s retweet carried the caption: “The corrupted Dems trying their best to come to the Ayatollah’s rescue. #NancyPelosiFakeNews.”
According to the Associated Press, the Twitter account in question has a history of tweeting in English and Persian about Iranian issues, promoting pro-Trump content and criticising Democrats.
Schumer, the Senate minority leader, asked in a tweet of his own: “President Trump: How low can you go? Republicans: How long can you cover up for and defend the president’s actions?”
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham defended the retweet, telling Fox News it was intended to show Democrats have been parroting Iranian talking points, almost taking the side of terrorists and those attempting to kill Americans.
Democrats have questioned Trump’s rationale for ordering the Suleimani killing and warned about resulting tensions with Iran. No Democrats have praised Suleimani, whom Pelosi described last week as “a terrible person who did bad things”.
In his statement on Monday Awad, of Cair, said: “President Trump has repeatedly targeted Islam and Muslims with bigoted rhetoric and Islamophobic appointments and policies such as the Muslim [travel] ban, which media reports say is soon to be extended to other nations.
“Americans of all faiths and backgrounds must speak out against this promotion of religious hatred by the occupant of the Oval Office. Such bigotry is not normal and must never become acceptable.”