Rousing a bout of skepticism among some Twitter users, Donald Trump wished Muslims a happy Ramadan on Tuesday. The president said in a statement that he hoped Muslims observing the holy month in Islam had a "blessed" time and praised "the richness Muslims add to the religious tapestry of American life."
But shortly after Trump's statement was released, some Twitter users brought up what Trump had said about Muslims in the past, including during the presidential campaign trail in 2016. Some juxtaposed the president's previous controversial comments on Muslims with his Ramadan message.
For Muslims around the world, Ramadan is a sacred time. It's the ninth month of the Islamic year wherein observing Muslims eat and drink nothing starting shortly before sunrise and ending at sunset. "With the rising of tonight's moon, I send my greetings and best wishes to all Muslims observing Ramadan in the United States and around the world," Trump's statement on Ramadan read.
"During the holy month of Ramadan," the statement continued, "Muslims commemorate the revelation of the Quran to the prophet Muhammad through fellowship and prayer. Many observe this holy time by fasting, performing acts of charity, reciting prayers, and reading the Quran." But Twitter users were not having any of Trump's Ramadan statement.
Los Angeles Times reporter Chris Megerian quoted Trump's Ramadan message alongside what he said on the campaign trail in 2015. In December 2015, The Washington Post reported that Trump called for a "total and complete shutdown" of Muslims entering the United States. People in the audience could be heard cheering for Trump in The Post's video after the then-Republican presidential called for banning Muslim immigration.
At the time, when The Hill asked Trump if the ban would include American Muslims, Trump's former spokeswoman Hope Hicks told the publication, "Mr. Trump says, 'Everyone.'" Later on, Trump defended his comments on ABC's Good Morning America but added that American Muslims would be able to travel without trouble. "They are a citizen, that is different," he said.
In another tweet, ThinkProgress senior editor Adrienne Mahsa Varkiani called Trump's Ramadan message a "complete joke" and noted that Trump broke away from the White House's two-decades-old tradition of hosting "iftar" — which means to break the fast after sunset — by not holding the gathering last year.
In 2017, CNN reported that two anonymous administration officials familiar with former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that Tillerson rejected the State Department's Office of Religion and Global Affairs' request to hold a reception for Eid al Fitr, the end of Ramadan. Additionally, the Trump White House has not indicated if it will hold any iftar gatherings or Eid al Fitr celebrations for this year's Ramadan.
While people like Varkiani and Megerian brought up previous statements from Trump, other Twitter users simply tweeted that they wished Trump would sincerely embody the sentiment his statement espoused for Muslims and Ramadan. Former White House Director of Specialty Shin Inouye said that he wished that the president "would listen to himself."
Other Twitter users said that Trump's Ramadan message seemed ironic when one remembered his support for surveilling Muslims. In 2016, CNN reported that Trump called for surveilling mosques and said, "We have to go and we have to maybe check, respectfully, the mosques. And we have to check other places. Because this is a problem that if we don't solve it, it's going to eat our country alive, OK? It's going to eat our country alive."
In another case in 2017, CNN reported that Trump retweeted a controversial and ultra-nationalist British Twitter account known for peddling Islamophobic content. After media reporters asked White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders about the president's retweets, she defended him and said, "I think his goal is to promote strong borders and strong national security."
For other Twitter users, like Vox's Tara Golshan, it was just hard to believe that Trump even wrote that message.
Some Twitter users, like @mohsinsub, just hoped that Trump would host a Ramadan gathering for Muslims at the White House this year.
While some may laud Trump for his supposedly inclusive Ramadan message, it is clear that there are many observers who still remain painfully aware of the president's fraught relationship with Muslims in the United States as well as those around the would.