Trump’s disturbing Ramadan message to Muslims

This is not the kind of holiday greeting anyone should receive.

Indonesian Muslims perform an evening prayer called ‘tarawih’ marking the first eve of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, at Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta, Indonesia, Friday, May 26, 2017. CREDIT: AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana
Indonesian Muslims perform an evening prayer called ‘tarawih’ marking the first eve of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, at Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta, Indonesia, Friday, May 26, 2017. CREDIT: AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana

In a statement commemorating the start of Ramadan — the holy month of fasting that begins Friday evening — President Donald Trump wished Muslims a “joyful” holiday before repeatedly referencing terrorism, violence, and national security.

“On behalf of the American people, I would like to wish all Muslims a joyful Ramadan,” Trump said in a statement. “During this month of fasting from dawn to dusk, many Muslims in America and around the world will find meaning and inspiration in acts of charity and meditation that strengthen our communities. At its core, the spirit of Ramadan strengthens awareness of our shared obligation to reject violence, to pursue peace, and to give to those in need who are suffering from poverty or conflict.”

“I reiterate my message delivered in Riyadh: America will always stand with our partners against terrorism and the ideology that fuels it,” Trump added. “During this month of Ramadan, let us be resolved to spare no measure so that we may ensure that future generations will be free of this scourge and able to worship and commune in peace.”

The president’s statement further referenced recent “barbaric terrorist attacks” in the United Kingdom and Egypt, calling them “acts of depravity that are directly contrary to the spirit of Ramadan. Such acts only steel our resolve to defeat the terrorists and their perverted ideology.”

In stark contrast to his outrage about those attacks, Trump has a habit of remaining mute about massacres committed by non-Muslims.

Trump also signed executive orders to ban foreign nationals from countries that have a big Muslim population (although those executive orders are on hold), and requested a drastic cut to the 2018 fiscal year budget for refugee resettlement at a time when Syrian refugees are still in need of a place to go. His administration is also reportedly standing in the way of a plan for the G7 countries to resettle Syrian refugees.

The president may think it’s necessary to mention “terrorist” and “terrorism” at least three times in his statement, but it’s insulting for Muslims who are already frequently expected to answer for the crimes they did not commit. According to a Pew Research Center poll, Muslims around the world largely condemn the militant group ISIS just as much as anyone else.

It’s also an insult to Muslims to presume they aren’t working hard to counter extremism. About 40 percent of the tips about impending attacks— the “largest single source of initial information” — come from the Muslim-American community, a 2011 University of North Carolina (UNC) study found. As a recent case in point, Salman Abedi, the reported bomber in the recent Manchester attack, was banned from a mosque for criticizing an imam and reported to authorities for his extremist views.

Trump’s statement differed sharply from what his presidential predecessors have said to commemorate Ramadan. In his final Ramadan statement, then-President Barack Obama promised to protect the religious liberties of Muslim Americans and said the United States would welcome Muslim refugees. Similarly, just two months after the September 11, 2001 attacks, then-President George W. Bush quoted the Qu’ran to convey a unifying message and said it was a book that “teaches the value and importance of charity, mercy, and peace.”

But then again, Trump’s statement seems perfectly in character for someone who failed to mention Jews in his Holocaust Remembrance Day statement.