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New USAID religious freedom advisor has history of Islamophobic posts

A USAID spokesperson said one inflammatory comment referred to "radical Islam, not Islam" [Getty]

Date of publication: 28 May, 2020

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USAID's recently appointed religious freedom advisor has made multiple Islamophobic comments on his social media profiles.
The United States Agency for International Development's (USAID) new pick for the position of "religious freedom advisor" has a history of posting Islamophobic comments on social media, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday.

USAID is a US government body that provides aid and development assistance to countries in need.

On Tuesday, the agency appointed Mark Kevin Lloyd - a former Virginia field campaign director for then-presidential candidate Donald Trump - as its religious freedom advisor, the Post reported.

According to the Associated Press, Lloyd made multiple public Islamophobic posts while employed by the Trump campaign in 2016.

At the time, Lloyd called Islam a "barbaric cult" and claimed Muslims sought to impose Sharia law in the US. He said stated that "those who understand Islam for what it is are gearing up for the fight."

Days after the Orlando nightclub shooting, which was carried out by a Muslim man who swore allegiance to the Islamic State group, Lloyd shared a meme that said people should be forced to eat bacon before they can obtain firearms.

In more recent public posts on his Facebook profile, Lloyd said those who believe Islam is a peaceful religion don't understand history, according to the Washington Post. He also accused Barack Obama of having ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.

In reference to the "barbaric cult" statement, a USAID spokesperson told the Washington Post Lloyd's comments referred to "radical Islam, not Islam".

Lloyd's inflammatory posts have now either been removed or made private.

American Muslim organisations have called for Lloyd's removal from USAID.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) on Wednesday said Lloyd is "clearly unfit to serve a diverse, multi-faith society".

“There is no room in any government position - let alone a position meant to protect religious freedoms - for those who promote bigotry," said CAIR Government Affairs Director Robert McCaw.

Also on Wednesday, Muslim Advocates said Lloyd's appointment fits a "long-standing pattern" of Islamophobia within the President Donald Trump's administration.

“Especially during a global pandemic, it is a cruel joke for USAID, an agency tasked with overseeing foreign aid and development efforts, to name an anti-Muslim bigot as a religious freedom adviser," said Madihha Ahussain, Muslim Advocates Special Counsel for Anti-Muslim Bigotry.

"Someone who has broadcast this kind of hateful and dangerous rhetoric should have no place in our government and certainly should not be advising a federal agency on religious freedom," she added.

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