American Muslims counter Donald Trump's 9/11 celebration narrative

Donald Trump's comments alleging that American Muslims celebrated the fall of the Twin Towers has prompted a swift backlash from the American Muslim community.

Brian Snyder/Reuters
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Waterville Valley, N.H., Tuesday.

Donald Trump’s claim that he saw “thousands and thousands” of American Muslims cheering the fall of the Twin Towers on September 11th, 2001 has received considerable backlash from the American Muslim population.

In Mr. Trump’s comments, he alleges that the Muslim community and Arab population in New Jersey knew the towers were going to come down, and celebrated when they finally did.

"There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey, where you have large Arab populations. They were cheering as the World Trade Center came down," Trump said last week.

But the Muslim community to which he refers deny celebrating the attacks on the World Trade Center. They recall grieving the tremendous loss, and also being afraid about how the attacks would impact Americans’ perception of the Islamic faith.

I know for sure that is completely untrue," Waheed Khalid, president of a cemetery for the Muslim community known as Jersey State Memorial Park, told CNN. "There was absolutely no celebration, in fact we were very much concerned about the backlash at our community."

Ahmed Shedeed, president of the Islamic Center of Jersey City, has also decried Trump’s comments as patently untrue.

"I'm worried about as much as he believed in what he says, other people going to believe what he is saying," he told CNN. "This is going to be more hate, and more Islamophobia against this Muslim community."

The mayor of Jersey City, Steven Fulop, has criticized Trump for making unfounded claims.

"Trump needs to understand that Jersey City will not be part of his hate campaign," said Fulop. "Clearly, Trump has memory issues or willfully distorts the truth, either of which should be concerning for the Republican Party.'"

When Trump was asked to clarify his statements in an interview with George Stephanopoulos on the ABC program This Week, the real estate magnate stood by his word.

"It was on television. I saw it," Trump said. "It was well covered at the time, George. Now, I know they don't like to talk about it, but it was well covered at the time.”

In order to backup his claims, Trump's campaign has circulated a video of New Jersey media personality, Curtis Sliwa, taking calls from fans of his show to discuss the supposed celebrations. Mr. Sliwa says that the video in circulation had been doctored and has asked the Trump campaign for an apology for taking his comments out of context.

Trump has also circulated a September 2001 CBS report that mentioned eight people celebrating the fall of the towers. 

The reporter quoted in the CBS story, Pablo Guzmán, said on Twitter that "Eight cheering is [eight] too many. But not 'thousands.' And disgusted Muslims also called police about people on roofs.” He has also said that the video was edited, and that his comments were taken out of context.

Independent research conducted by PolitiFact has determined that while there were celebrations about the attacks on the Twin Towers in the Palestinian territories, nothing of the sort occurred in America.

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