Islamic Center of Pittsburgh director condemns Trump’s retweets of anti-Muslim videos
President Trump’s early morning tweets Wednesday containing questionable videos of purported Muslim violence threaten the safety of law-abiding Muslims, the head of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh said Wednesday.
Wasi Mohamed, the center’s executive director, said there is a direct correlation between political rhetoric and hate crimes against Muslims.
“When the president says something like that, people are all going to take it as fact,” he said. “It’s really dangerous to say things that are clearly not true in articles from extremist organizations that are kind of pushing this agenda.”
Trump retweeted video posts from Jayda Fransen, the leader of Britain First, a right-wing party in the United Kingdom. The videos appear to show Muslims beating a boy on crutches, destroying a statue of the Virgin Mary and beating a boy to death after pushing him off a roof. Fransen has been charged in Britain with “religious aggravated harassment.”
Civil rights groups and a spokesman for British Prime Minister Theresa May condemned Trump’s tweets. The Netherlands Embassy in Washington tweeted that the perpetrator shown beating the boy on crutches was born and raised in the Netherlands and was punished for his crime under Dutch law.
Trump spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended the president, saying he wants to “promote strong borders and strong national security.”
“I think it’s important to talk about national security and national security threats,” she said. “The president sees different things to be national security threats, and he sees having strong borders as being one of the things that helps protect people in this country from some real threats that we face.”
Mohamed said Trump retweeted the videos with “no regard for the safety of American citizens.”
He said such political rhetoric triggers hate crimes and Islamophobia.
“These are things that have always been in the corners of the Internet, but now they’re tweeted out by the most powerful person in the world,” he said. “This is why we’re having record-high violence against Muslims, hatred against Muslims and Islamophobia is cemented. It’s because dubious sources are now getting their time in the light.”