During a recent town hall event, leading Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump told a supporter he would look into unsubstantiated claims about terrorist “training camps” for Muslims, and declined to correct the man's assertion that President Obama is a Muslim. The supporter's comments hardly come as a surprise. Not only does Trump himself have a history of promoting fringe birther myths about Obama's background, but right-wing media have spent years pushing anti-Muslim rhetoric and myths.
At a September 17 New Hampshire town hall event, a participant told Trump, “We have a problem in this country. It's called Muslims. We know our current president is one. You know he's not even an American,” adding, “Anyway, we have training camps growing where they want to kill us. That's my question: When can we get rid of them?”
Right-wing media, including Fox News, have a long history of promoting anti-Muslim fearmongering. In 2011, Trump speculated on Fox's The O'Reilly Factor that Obama might not want his birth certificate released because “maybe it says he is a Muslim.” Fox continued to hype Trump's birtherism, promoting the birther myth in no fewer than 52 segments over a two month period.
Earlier this year, right-wing media stoked unsubstantiated myths about Islamic extremist training camps within the United States. Within the past month, Fox has been channeling anti-Muslim sentiment to fearmonger about the Obama administration's plan to resettle Syrian refugees in the United States.
Leaders at Muslim Advocates and New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good called on Trump to “clarify his position regarding American Muslims and whether he believes the country needs to 'get rid of' Muslims,” stating that “anti-Muslim rhetoric isn't just ugly, it's dangerous. It is almost always followed by an uptick in anti-Muslim hate crimes and violence.”