Conflicting Reports Highlight Controversy Over Jersey City Muslims Celebrating 9/11
Conflicting reports continue to rage about the validity of Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump’s assertion that thousands of New Jersey Muslims openly celebrated the September 11 attacks in Jersey City.
The controversy began at a November 21 campaign rally in Alabama, when Trump told the story as part of a proposal to begin surveillance of mosques.
“I watched the World Trade Center come tumbling down. And I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people where cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering. So something is going on. We’ve got to find out what’s going on.”
Trump doubled down on his claims in a later interview, saying “It did happen, I saw it on television. I saw it.”
While no direct evidence to support Trump’s claims has come to light, the candidate and his staff shared video from a September 18 2001 CBS news report where reporter Pablo Guzman referenced eight men being detained in Jersey City after they were seen celebrating the attacks. However, the report features no actual video of celebrations. For his part, Guzman took to his Twitter account and claimed that he was solely reporting what a source had told him. It should be noted of course that many reports circulated through the press in the initial weeks after 9/11, many of which ended up being unsubstantiated. Also, the eight people mentioned in the Guzman report are a far cry from the thousands Trump claimed to have seen.
For their part, Muslim citizens of Jersey City have not taken kindly to Trump’s allegations. Waheed Khalid, president of the Jersey State Memorial Park, a Muslim cemetery, claims that “There was absolutely no celebration, in fact we were very much concerned about the backlash at our community.”
Jersey City Mayor and lifelong resident Steven Fulop also weighed in, categorically denying Trump’s claims.
“There is no media report that would substantiate that. There is no police record that would substantiate anything that was said with regards of people celebrating in the streets post-9/11.”
While the lack of any real evidence, video or otherwise, certainly casts aspirations on Trump’s claims, his rhetoric has further opened a Pandora’s Box of anti-Muslim sentiment that has left many Muslim Americans, especially those in Jersey City wary of potential reprisals.
Ahmed Shedeed, president of Jersey City’s Islamic Center, expressed these sentiments to CNN saying “I’m worried about as much as he believed in what he says, other people are going to believe what he is saying. This is going to be more hate, and more Islamophobia against the Muslim community.”