A prominent Islamic advocacy organization Sunday deplored US President Donald Trump’s promotion of a notorious anti-Muslim writer’s tweet questioning whether US mosques will be treated differently during the upcoming month of Ramzan than churches were treated during Easter amid the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.
At the White House coronavirus briefing on Saturday evening, Trump claimed — without evidence — that there “could be a difference” in how authorities in America’s 50 states enforce lockdown measures during Ramzan compared to how Christians were treated on Easter when a number of faithful chafed against virus-related restrictions on large gatherings.
Trump added: “And we’ll have to see what will happen. Because I’ve seen a great disparity in this country.”
In response to the president’s remarks, the Executive Director of the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Nihal Awad, said, “President Trump’s bigoted attempt to use American-Muslims as a political football just before the holy month of Ramzan was as divisive as it was insulting.”
Trump’s remarks came during the press conference when the president was asked to defend his retweet of conservative writer Paul Sperry, who seemed to question whether Muslims would be treated with the same severity as Christians who broke social distancing rules.
Trump said, “They (the states) go after Christian churches but they don’t tend to go after mosques.” While speaking about whether he thinks that Imams would refuse to follow the social distancing norms, Trump said, “No, I don’t think that at all.”
Denouncing Trump’s statement, Awad, CAIR’s executive director, said, “Mosques across our nation have already announced plans to remain closed indefinitely because the American-Muslim community, unlike President Trump, recognizes the ongoing threat of the coronavirus.
“Furthermore, President Trump’s claim that American mosques — many of which have been protested, threatened, vandalized and even bombed in the years since he launched his first presidential campaign — receive preferential treatment compared to other faiths is an Islamophobic fantasy,” he said.
“Instead of fanning the flames of bigotry to distract the public from his own failures, the President should focus on combating the continued spread of the coronavirus.”
Awad also cited a statement by the Fiqh Council of North America that called on mosques and Islamic centers to “strictly follow the health and state official guidelines for social gatherings and distancing,” and to hold Taraweeh prayers “at home within a family setting.”
Awad pointed out that CAIR has reported an unprecedented spike in bigotry targeting American Muslims, immigrants and members of other minority groups since the election of Donald Trump as president.
CAIR said it has also repeatedly expressed concern about his anti-Muslim rhetoric and the Trump administration’s Islamophobic, white supremacist and racist policies and appointments.
Meanwhile, Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons, a progressive Christian writer and activist, on Sunday described Trump’s comments as, “false and dangerous.”
“He’s peddling anti-Muslim bigotry while playing into the far-right Christian persecution complex that has no basis in reality,”