‘Trump, servant of God’: How Saudis are viewing his visit

https://www.dialoguenews.com/blog/passchendaele-ceremony-honours-bravery/

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud (L), and Ivanka Trump (r) - 20 May 2017

Plenty of attention was on Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka in Saudi Arabia. Her father was there too.

In stark contrast to the upbeat statements of Saudi officials concerning US President Donald Trump’s visit to the kingdom on 20 May, many Arab Twitter users have taken a more sceptical view of the trip.

At one point on Saturday, though, the term “Trump’s daughter” in Arabic was the top-trending topic worldwide on Twitter.

Many have taken to satire, posting images referencing negative comments by Mr Trump about Islam and Muslims. Their reaction comes ahead of his much-anticipated speech at the Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh on Sunday.

‘Save us from his evil’

Twitter users have circulated a screen shot of an earlier tweet (posted in May, but now deleted) by Saudi cleric Saad Bin Ghoneim.

It said: “Oh Allah, Trump is one of your servants, his fate is in your hands. Command him, whether or not he wishes, to serve the best interests of the Muslims and to ease their oppression. Save us from his evil and guide him to your path.”

Mr Bin Ghoneim told the Saudi online newspaper Sabq that he had posted the tweet after “positive statements from US President Trump towards our country following a successful visit” from Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman to the US.

He said his tweet included a prayer for Muslims to be saved from the “evil” of Mr Trump.

Photoshopped image of Donald Trump as a Saudi cleric

One popular Trump meme doing the rounds on social media is by @mazn1161. It features a doctored image of Mr Trump’s face as a bearded Saudi cleric. The picture appears next to two smaller ones – of the cleric Mr Bin Ghoneim and of Mr Trump surrounded by scantily-clad women.

The headline across the images reads: “Saudi cleric issues fatwa: Trump is a messenger of Allah and to obey him is to obey Allah!” Next to the image, @mazn1161 writes: “Coming soon, Sunday sermon by the cleric #Trump.”

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‘You wouldn’t exist without us’

One cartoon retweeted 71 times places Mr Trump and the Saudi rulers at the centre of the Yemeni conflict.

Cartoon ahead of Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia - May 2017

The cartoon shows the Saudi monarch and his son accompanied by Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi submissively welcoming Mr Trump as he exits his jet.

On one side of the red carpet are bodies of dead Yemenis. On the other side, a man stands over a kneeling woman in a burka with a sword, apparently about to behead her.

The cartoon was tweeted by @753_yamen_87 who sneered at Arab leaders and commented: “After Trump prohibited Muslim citizens from seven Arab countries from entering America, the Saudi Arab Death [“mahlaka”, a play on the Arabic word for kingdom, “mamlaka”] responds by gathering 17 Muslim leaders to welcome him. #Age_of_decadence.”

@1Shmia tweeted a doctored image of Donald Trump appearing to show disdain to the Saudi rulers as he shouts down at smaller images of King Salman and his son, Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman.

The caption reads: “All you have is money and you wouldn’t exist without us. Why don’t you pay us?”

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‘Now is the time to seek victory’

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Twitter users are also using the occasion of Trump’s visit to highlight the case of Saudi student Khaled al-Dawsari, who is serving a life sentence in the US for the attempted use of explosives on American targets.

Twitter account @5haledaldosari, which describes itself as the official account for the Khalid al-Dawsari campaign, posted a picture of Mr Trump and Saudi King Salman side by side. The caption read: “O nation, one of your sons is buried away in prison but now is the time to seek victory for him.”

The tweet called for Twitter users to post with the Arabic hashtag #the_summit_is_a_demand_for_Khaled’s_freedom. The tweet from 18 May has been retweeted more than 790 times.

For some Twitter users such as @alsuiadi, however, the visit is a source of pride. He said: “The whole world has its eyes on Riyadh and is following its events and is looking forward to the outcomes of the bilateral summit meeting. Looking forward to a bright future.”

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