Trump Questions if U.S. Authorities Will Enforce Social Distancing for Muslims During Ramadan

Trump's comments were called 'incoherent' and '#Islamophobia' by the Council on American-Islamic relations

Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
President Donald Trump speaks during a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House, Saturday, April 18, 2020, in Washington
President Donald Trump speaks during a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House, Saturday, April 18, 2020, in WashingtonCredit: AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

U.S. President Donald Trump addressed Saturday a retweet of his over the weekend that sparked accusations of Islamophobia for suggesting there "could be a difference" in how authorities enforce social distancing during Ramadan.

Trump was asked during his coronavirus task force briefing Saturday about a tweet by conservative writer Paul Sperry, which Trump had retweeted.

Coronavirus tracker: Live statistics of cases and deaths in Israel and around the world >> All our latest stories

"Let's see if authorities enforce the social-distancing orders for mosques during Ramadan (April 23-May 23) like they did churches during Easter," Sperry wrote on the social media platform and was read back to Trump for comment.

"I would say that there could be a difference," Trump responded. "And we'll have to see what will happen. Because I've seen a great disparity in this country." The Council on American-Islamic relations slammed Trump's comments on Twitter as "incoherent" and included the hashtag "Islamophobia".

Trump also criticized the so-called "squad:" Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley for having an "anti-Israel bent."

"The things that they say about Israel are so bad," Trump said in an apparent tangent. "And I can’t believe it."

Trump held a call with faith leaders on Friday that included discussion about a phased-in return to broader in-person worship after weeks of religious services largely shifting online in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump’s call with faith leaders came one day after the White House included houses of worship among “large venues” that could be able to reopen while observing “strict physical distancing protocols” in the first stage of a three-part plan to reopen a U.S. economy that’s been frozen by the toll of the highly contagious virus.

The call included representatives of multiple Christian denominations as well as Jewish and Islamic leaders, according to a statement distributed by the White House.

Trump “mentioned his memories as a young child attending Billy Graham’s service at Yankee Stadium, and acknowledged that while he has enjoyed watching services online from the White House, he told the faith leaders it is important for people to soon be able to once again come together, pray, and worship,” the White House said in its statement.

Participants in the call with faith leaders said it featured discussion about how restarting in-person worship could work, without any conclusion reached, and underscored their commitment to not imperiling the health of the faithful. Indeed, Trump has said that governors would be empowered to spearhead their states’ paces of economic reopening.

Jack Graham, pastor of Texas-based Prestonwood Baptist Church, said the call included conversation about “how would we go about bringing people back together,” adding that those involved agreed that “we’re going to do that carefully and gradually, and not put people at risk.”

Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Council, said that religious institutions “want to be a blessing and not a burden” by not returning to practices that could “cause more harm than good” if taken up too early.

Rodriguez added that he hoped to see clergy and other faith leaders nationwide identified as essential workers, as well as a clear resumption of outdoor religious services that can be conducted with people remaining in their automobiles. That sort of step would “help us transition to a new normal,” he said.

Cissie Graham Lynch of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse, said churches would be committed to keeping their congregations safe and emphasized the importance of healing the spiritual pain caused by widespread social distancing restrictions imposed to fight the virus.

“People are lonely, people are scared,” Lynch said.

Those who participated in the call described Trump as closely engaged in the discussion.

“We may be opening, but we’re putting safety first,” the president told reporters Friday.

The faith leaders’ conversation with Trump is not the only sign that religious leaders are beginning to explore how to resume in-person worship services. The Christian executive search firm Vanderbloemen has launched ReopeningChurch.com and ReopeningSchool.com websites to start a conversation on that process.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.

Subscribe today and save 40%

SUBSCRIBE
Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

Palestinians search through the rubble of a building in which Khaled Mansour, a top Islamic Jihad militant was killed following an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, southern Gaza strip, on Sunday.

Gazans Are Tired of Pointless Wars and Destruction, and Hamas Listens to Them

Trump and Netanyahu at the White House in Washington, in 2020.

Three Years Later, Israelis Find Out What Trump Really Thought of Netanyahu

German soldier.

The Rival Jewish Spies Who Almost Changed the Course of WWII

Rio. Not all Jewish men wear black hats.

What Does a Jew Look Like? The Brits Don't Seem to Know

Galon. “I’m coming to accomplish a specific mission: to increase Meretz’s strength and ensure that the party will not tread water around the electoral threshold. If Meretz will be large enough, it will be the basis for a Jewish-Arab partnership.” Daniel Tchetchik

'I Have No Illusions About Ending the Occupation, but the Government Needs the Left'

Soldiers using warfare devices made by the Israeli defense electronics company Elbit Systems.

Russia-Ukraine War Catapults Israeli Arms Industry to Global Stage