Phony Prayer Rug Story

Q: Did the Obama White House hold Islamic prayer five times a day, and provide prayer rugs for Muslim employees and visitors?

A: No. This is a hoax perpetuated by a satirical news website.

FULL QUESTION

Is it true that over the last seven years Obama ordered silence during the five times of Islamic prayer each day and made prayer rugs and crescent moon symbols available in several areas of the executive mansion to make Muslims more comfortable?

FULL ANSWER

In early December, the Resistance, a self-described satirical website, published a bogus story claiming that “for the past 7 years, to appease any Muslims working at or visiting the White House, silence has been ordered during the five times of Islamic prayer each day.”

The piece carried the headline “Obama Crushed After Trump Orders White House to Stop His Sickest Tradition.” It also alleged that “prayer rugs and crescent moon symbols are available in several areas of the executive mansion to make Muslims more comfortable,” and that Islamic prayer “is observed for 25 minutes per day seven days a week.”

None of that is true.

The author, who only goes by the name “Stryker,” even imagined a statement from Donald Trump’s transition team, citing a nonexistent MSNBC interview with the fictional official “Jim Mergernerlerny,” who is quoted saying, “Mr. Trump doesn’t see the need to provide prayer rugs and false idols in a house built by Christians.”

The fake news story was based on a real photo of Ahmadi Muslims praying in the White House China Room during a special celebration of the Muslim holiday Eid al-Fitr in July. In remarks, Obama noted that the White House hosts an Iftar dinner each year, and said that the Eid event was a way to “do something a little different” for his last year as president.

But this was a one-time engagement that the White House publicized, not “one of Obama’s most secretive rituals,” as the Resistance story claimed.

Readers shouldn’t take the Resistance’s claims at face value because the website admits to pushing fake news. A disclaimer on its  “about us” page says: “The Resistance may include information from sources that may or may not be reliable and facts that don’t necessarily exist. All articles should be considered satirical and any and all quotes attributed to actual people complete and total baloney. Pictures that represent actual people should be considered altered and not in any way real.”

This time, however, the picture is the only real thing about the otherwise phony story. 

This fake story fits a pattern we saw during Obama’s presidency, with many viral claims saying or implying that he was Muslim, or otherwise questioning Obama’s Christian faith.

Sources

The Resistance: The Last Line of Defense. “About Us.” Accessed 13 Jan 2017.

Stryker. “Obama Crushed After Trump Orders White House to Stop His Sickest Tradition.” Thelastlineofdefense.org. Accessed 13 Jan 2017.

The Express Tribune. “Ahmadi Man gives call to prayer at White House.” 22 July 2016.

Garcia, Arturo. “Lie Like a (Prayer) Rug.” Snopes.com. 5 Dec 2016.

Obama, Barack. Remarks by the President at Eid Reception. WhiteHouse.gov. 21 July 2016.

FactCheck.org

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