President Donald Trump drew strong criticism from Muslim Americans and commentators on Monday after he re-tweeted a doctored photo of Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wearing a turban and hijab, respectively, standing in front of an Iranian flag.
Right-wing pundits and some Republican lawmakers have lashed out at Democrats in Congress for criticizing Trump’s decision to carry out a military drone strike that killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani after he arrived in Iraq on January 3. The original poster of the image, whose Twitter handle is @D0wn_Under, shared similar frustrations with his tweet.
“The corrupted Dems trying their best to come to the Ayatollah’s rescue,” the Twitter user wrote, sharing the doctored image.
In a follow-up tweet, Trump wrote: “The Democrats and the Fake News are trying to make terrorist Soleimani into a wonderful guy, only because I did what should have been done for 20 years.”
“It is unconscionable that an American president would mock Islam and Muslims in such a derogatory manner,” Ibrahim Hooper, national communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, told Newsweek in an emailed statement.
“This type of bigoted message promoted by the President of the United States will serve to further endanger American Muslims, Sikhs and members of other faiths who wear recognizable religious attire,” he warned.
Defending the president’s retweet in an interview with Fox News, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said: “The president is making clear the Democrats are parroting Iranian talking points and almost taking the side of terrorists and those out to kill Americans.”
Others strongly criticized the president’s decision to share the image with his more than 70 million Twitter followers.
“The President of the United States is engaging in hate speech against an entire religion. And because he is President, it is in our name. It is on all of us – especially our elected officials- to demand that it stop,” Dana Shell Smith, the former U.S. ambassador to Qatar tweeted. “And to demand that @Twitter put an end to it.”
“Why the actual hell is the president of the United States using the way I and millions of other Americans dress and the religious beliefs that We hold as a slur,” Libyan-American Twitter user Hend Amry, who describes herself as a “citizen and refugee” wrote. “This absolutely must be condemned by congressional lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.”
“I’m sure everyone who said Omar was making remarks tinged with anti-Semitism will immediately condemn Trump’s anti-Muslim retweet,” journalist Glenn Fleishman tweeted. He was referencing previous controversies, when Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota was accused by many Republicans, and some Democrats, of making anti-semitic remarks.