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Trump's Twitter ban: 10 Islamophobic posts by outgoing president 

Twitter permanently suspended Trump's account on Friday to prevent 'further incitement of violence'; we revisit some of his controversial tweets
"The United Kingdom is trying hard to disguise their massive Muslim problem," Trump tweeted in 2015 (AFP/File photo)
By Ali Harb in Washington

It has been a bad week for President Donald Trump. His hopeless efforts to overturn the election results have come to a halt; his Republican allies are abandoning him; Democrats want to remove him from office, and many Americans are blaming him for the riot at the US Capitol. 

Late on Friday, he was kicked off his favourite social media platform. Twitter permanently suspended Trump's account "due to the risk of further incitement of violence" after the unrest caused by his supporters in Washington earlier this week.

Twitter temporarily locked Trump's account on Wednesday, the day of the riots. He was allowed access to it on Thursday night. 

Earlier on Friday, he sent two tweets - one saying that his supporters, whom he called "great American Patriots" would not be "disrespected or treated unfairly," and another confirming that he would not attend President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on 20 January.

In its statement explaining the reasons behind the ban, Twitter said the two posts were "likely to inspire others to replicate the violent acts that took place" on Wednesday.

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Muslim Advocates, a US civil rights group, welcomed the suspension of Trump's account. "By permanently banning Trump's account, Twitter is showing real leadership and is taking a significant step towards shutting off a major source of online hate and disinformation - as well as helping to prevent further white nationalist violence," the group said in a statement.

While Trump's incitement had reached a zenith with the chaos in Washington earlier this week, the outgoing president has been using Twitter to spread misinformation and bigotry - particularly Islamophobia - for years.

MEE revisits 10 previous posts by Trump that stirred controversy and accusations of bigotry without leading to a suspension:

Endorsing surveillance of Muslims in New York

A few years before announcing his candidacy for president, Trump took to Twitter to express support for the New York Police Department's unconstitutional surveillance progamme against the city's Muslim community. 

"NYC's top cop acted wisely and legally to monitor activities of some in the Muslim community. Vigilance keeps us safe," Trump tweeted in 2012.

In 2020, former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, who oversaw the programme, would run for president as a Democrat and defend spying on Muslims as the "right thing to do" at the time.

Falsely claiming Muslim Americans celebrated 9/11 attacks

Trump kicked off his presidential campaign in 2015 by calling undocumented Mexican immigrants "rapists" and continued to perpetuate hate and racism throughout the first weeks of his candidacy.

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At a time when the Islamic State group was committing horrific violence in Iraq and Syria and carrying out attacks across the Middle East and Europe, Trump quickly turned his anti-immigrant animus against Muslims. 

He claimed falsely that Muslim Americans in New Jersey celebrated the 9/11 attacks. "Credible Source on 9-11 Muslim Celebrations: FBI," he tweeted in November 2015 along with a link to a fake news article.

In the following weeks, he would subsequently retweet several posts by users claiming to have witnessed the celebrations that did not happen.

Decrying what he called the UK's 'massive Muslim problem'

Late in 2015, hundreds of thousands of people in Britain signed a parliamentary petition urging their government to  bar Trump from entering their country over his infamous "Muslim ban" proposal. The future US president hit back at the UK by claiming that the country was suffering from a "Muslim problem".

"The United Kingdom is trying hard to disguise their massive Muslim problem. Everybody is wise to what is happening, very sad! Be honest," he wrote on Twitter.

Later that day, Trump paid tribute to far-right British columnist Katie Hopkins, praising her "powerful writing" on "the UK's Muslim problems".

Now Trump joins Hopkins, who once compared migrants to "cockroaches," on the list of people banned from Twitter. The social media network permanently suspended her account earlier this year over "abuse and hateful conduct".

Denying the existence of Muslim-American sports heroes

After then-president Barack Obama praised Muslim Americans as "our friends and our neighbors, our co-workers, our sports heroes," Trump questioned the assertion in December 2015.

"Obama said in his speech that Muslims are our sports heroes. What sport is he talking about, and who? Is Obama profiling?" 

Among many others, Muslim-American sports heroes include legendary boxer Muhammad Ali and NBA all time leading scorer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Months later, Trump would eulogise Ali after his death, calling him - on Twitter - a "truly great champion and a wonderful guy".

'I asked for the ban'

After 29-year-old militant Omar Mateen killed dozens people at a nightclub in Orlando, Trump spoke of being congratulated over his anti-Muslim proposals. 

He wrote in June of 2016: "Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don't want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!"

He also reiterated his call for a complete ban on Muslims entering the United States. 

"What has happened in Orlando is just the beginning. Our leadership is weak and ineffective. I called it and asked for the ban. Must be tough."

Retweeting fake videos of violence by 'Muslim migrants'

In the early months of his presidency, Trump toned down the explicit Islamophobia - at least on Twitter. Still, one day in November 2017 he retweeted three posts by a far-right British activist purporting to show acts of violence committed by Muslims in Europe.

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One of the videos was from Egypt, another was from Syria and a third was from the Netherlands and did not involve Muslims. 

"Whether it is a real video, the threat is real," White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said at the time, dismissing questions into the authenticity of the posts.

"It's an incitement to violence against American Muslims," Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American Islamic Relations, told MEE at the time.

Warning of 'unknown Middle Easterners' at the border

Ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, Trump had been beating the drums of fear about a "migrant caravan" heading to the US southern border from Central America.

In October, he claimed without evidence that the migrants include "unknown Middle Easterners".

"Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in," he wrote. "I have alerted Border Patrol and Military that this is a National Emergy [sic]. Must change laws!"

Civil rights groups condemned the false assertion at the time. 

"It's a very xenophobic tweet. It's there to perpetuate hatred, bigotry, xenophobia towards Arabs," Abed Ayoub, the legal director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), told MEE after Trump's post.

Telling US congresswomen to 'go back' to countries 'they came' from

It was extraordinary even by Trump's standards. In July 2019, the president sent a series of tweets telling progressive American congresswomen of colour to go back to the "crime infested places from which they came".

His remarks were directed at the four left-wing legislators - including two Muslim congresswomen - known as the squad. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one of the progressive lawmakers Trump targeted, is actually from New York, his hometown.

"So interesting to see 'Progressive' Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run," he wrote. 

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"Why don't they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done. These places need your help badly, you can't leave fast enough. I'm sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!"

Telling immigrants and people of colour to "go back" is a common racist trope, and the president of the United States repeated it - not as a slip of the tongue, but in Twitter posts.

The comment garnered widespread backlash from Democrats as most of the president's Republican allies continued to defend him.

"This is the agenda of white nationalists, whether it is happening in chat rooms, or it is happening on national TV, and now it's reached the White House garden," Muslim-American Congresswoman Ilhan Omar said at the time.

Accusing Omar of dancing on 9/11 anniversary

Revisiting his false 2015 claims of Muslims celebrating 9/11 and doubling down on his Islamophobic remarks against Omar, Trump retweeted a post on 13 September 2019 accusing the congresswoman of partying on the anniversary of the attacks.

“GET THIS WOMAN OUT OF OFFICE. Ilhan Omar partied on the anniversary of 9/11," the tweet said.

It showed a video of Omar dancing in a crowd to a song by the American pop star Lizzo. 

Omar was actually at a Congressional Black Caucus event two days after the 9/11 anniversary.

"This is from a CBC event we hosted this weekend to celebrate black women in Congress," the congresswoman wrote in response to Trump's retweet.

"The President of the United States is continuing to spread lies that put my life at risk. What is Twitter doing to combat this misinformation?"

Saying Biden would turn Midwest into a 'refugee camp'

With the spread of Covid-19 and racial tensions across the country, Trump did not cite Muslims in his reelection campaign as much as he did in 2015 and 2016.

But in the final stretch, he often invoked refugees and Congresswoman Omar to spark fear among voters. Days before the election last November, he took to Twitter to warn that his opponent Joe Biden would bring refugees from "terrorist nations" to swing states.

"Joe Biden would increase refugees from terrorist nations by 700%," Trump wrote. 

"His plan would overwhelm your communities and turn Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and the entire Midwest into a refugee camp. I am protecting your families and keeping Radical Islamic Terrorists OUT of our Country!"

Trump would go on to lose the election by millions of votes, having been dealt defeats in all of the three Midwestern states he mentioned in the tweet. Eventually he was banned from Twitter.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

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