President Trump sent a tweet Friday morning quoting a border rancher as stating that “[w]e’ve found prayer rugs out here. It’s unreal.” After attributing the story to the Washington Examiner, Trump states that “people coming across the Southern Border from many countries, some of which would be a big surprise.”
The tweet was a reference to a story published by the Examiner earlier this week and reported on by the Inquisitr. The story anonymously quoted a female rancher in New Mexico who noted how many of the people crossing the border are from countries other from Mexico. The rancher also stated that she believes some of the border-crossers are Muslim and that they have even found “prayers rugs,” associated with Islam, in the area.
“That’s what’s really scary,” the rancher told the Examiner. “You don’t know what’s coming across. We’ve found prayer rugs out here. It’s unreal. It’s not just Mexican nationals that are coming across.”
A lot of observers noticed something fishy about the story: It doesn’t put forth any evidence of the existence of these prayer rugs, beyond one person’s word. The rancher does not produce the rugs, nor does she produce photos of them, or any other evidence that they were ever there. Plus, prayer rugs are important to Muslims, and sometimes very expensive, so it’s unclear why they would be carelessly left on the ground.
Border rancher: “We’ve found prayer rugs out here. It’s unreal.” Washington Examiner People coming across the Southern Border from many countries, some of which would be a big surprise.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 18, 2019
Also in the Examiner article, the rancher implied that most people don’t know that many people who cross the border are from countries other than Mexico, a fact that was widely reported in last year’s coverage of the caravan, which began in Honduras. And she listed several countries from which people have been apprehended in the area – “Chinese, Germans, Russians, a lot of Middle Easterners [and] those Czechoslovakians,” although Czechoslovakia has not been a country since 1990.
In 2014, a Texas political candidate named David Dewhurst made a similar allegation about prayer rugs being found near the border, one that got some attention in the conservative media at the time. But that was never substantiated either, and Politifact rated the claim “Pants on Fire” at the time.
The claim of prayer rugs implies Islam, which in the minds of the audience for this type of story, implies terrorism, which is in line with arguments the administration has been making throughout the government shutdown to argue for a border wall. And now the “prayer rugs” talking point has been spread by the president of the United States, to his more than 57 million Twitter followers.