CNN criticized President Donald Trump on Tuesday for retweeting what it called a “doctored” image of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in “Muslim attire” in front of an Iranian flag.
The image lampooned Pelosi and Schumer for allegedly defending the leadership of Iran by criticizing Trump’s decision to launch a successful airstrike against Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, leader of the terrorist Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force.
— داون آندر (@D0wn_Under) January 13, 2020
Trump retweeted the image as part of a slew of tweets and retweets earlier this week criticizing Pelosi’s stance on Iran.
But to CNN, the parody amounted to an attack on Muslims and other religious minorities.
The president “has been known to retweet doctored and fake content,” CNN’s New Day host Alisyn Camerota said. She then introduced “writer, comedian, and disability advocate” Maysoon Zayid, who accused the president of “inciting violence,” saying the image made her feel “unsafe in this country.”
Zayid is a self-described “onestater” — someone who believes in the replacement of the State of Israel with a single, Palestinian-dominated state — who has defended Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) against charges of antisemitism. She also refers to supporters of President Trump as “Cult 45.”
Nevertheless, Zayid told CNN:
It is exhausting to wake up as a Muslim person in America and know that literally the most powerful man in the world is bullying and mocking Muslims. And he’s not bullying Nancy Pelosi. Nancy Pelosi is not going to be bullied by that. The ramifications are going to be with kids at school whose parents might wear a hijab. Or the people who were killed in Christchurch [New Zealand]. Or the people who were killed in the Tree of Life Synagogue. Because bigotry never stays with one minority. If you’re hateful against Muslims, you tend to be hateful against Jewish people. And a lot of people have been saying they are in Muslim traditional clothes, they are in Muslim garb. I am in “Muslim garb.” That is not what all Muslims wear. But I don’t think that picture was even them wearing Muslim clothing. That picture was really, really bad Photoshop. And when the most powerful man in the world, with access to all technology, chooses to retweet and amplify trolls, I think he makes us unsafe. Because we’re a joke worldwide, and it’s dangerous. But at the same time he’s inciting violence against actual religious minorities.
Zayid added that the image was an “anti-Abrahamic trifecta” because it allegedly insulted Schumer, as a Jew, and Pelosi, as a Catholic, to depict them in “clownish, offensive Muslim clothing.” She said that the image also implied that any woman who wears a hijab sympathizes with terrorism.
“I don’t think we can ignore blatant bigotry,” she added.
Update: Anti-Defamation League (ADL) president Jonathan Greenblatt, who has been sharply critical of Trump in the past, accused the president of “anti-Muslim bigotry” on Tuesday morning and demanded that he issue an apology for the retweet.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.