Trump accused of stoking division after questioning whether social distancing will be enforced at mosques

The president says he thinks imams will follow social distancing guidelines if in place

Danielle Zoellner
Sunday 19 April 2020 18:35
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President Donald Trump has warned there "could be a difference" in how social distancing rules are enforced for Ramadan versus Easter during his daily press briefing.

The president was asked about the differing holidays on Saturday after he retweeted conservative author and political commentator Paul Sperry.

"Let's see if authorities enforce the social-distancing orders for mosques during Ramadan (April 23-May 23) like they did churches during Easter," the tweet read.

Critics accused the president of promoting anti-Muslim rhetoric by retweeting the statement.

Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates, called the retweet "insulting and frustrating on the eve of Ramadan ... our president chooses to use his energy and platform to amplify the hateful words" of the original tweet," according to CNN.

"As is often the case, the president is yet again stoking anti-Muslim hate and sowing division at a time when he is failing to do his job," Mr Khera said.

During the press briefing, the president said he spoke with different religious leaders amid the coronavirus pandemic but ""politicians treat different faiths differently."

"Politicians treat different faiths differently," he claimed. "I don't know what happened with our country. But the Christian faith is treated much differently than it was, and I think it's treated unfairly."

Mr Trump made his claim after saying moments before it "matters not what your faith is."

"You know I just spoke with leaders and people that love mosques," Trump replied. "They love mosques! And I'm all in favour of that. But I would say that there could be a difference. And we'll have to see what will happen. Because I have seen a great disparity in this country. I've seen a great disparity."

The "great disparity" the president could be mentioning is the political correctness surrounding religion, but there was no clarification behind the reasoning of the retweet.

Mr Trump did say during the briefing that he thought imams, worship leaders for mosques, would uphold social distancing guidelines if they were still in place.

But what the president and the conservative author failed to mention was that social distancing measures were in place during Easter, which happened on 12 April. In comparison, Ramadan will go into the month of May.

The federal government has encouraged states to start their reopening processes as early as 1 May and lift some social distancing measures depending on how the coronavirus has spread in that area.

Mr Trump has been accused of Islamophobia previously after he made an executive order against travel from seven Muslim countries.

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