A quickly deleted video posted on the Twitter account of Saudi Arabia’s state security agency called feminism, homosexuality, and atheism “unacceptable…. forms of extremism and perversion.” Trump’s willingness to let the country get away with human rights abuses empowered the country’s admission, and he’s likely not to comment on it.
The deleted video reportedly said, “Don’t forget that excess of anything at the expense of the homeland is considered extremism,” according to Reuters.
Reuters notes, “Homosexuality and atheism have long been illegal and punishable by death in the absolute monarchy, where public protests and political parties are banned and the media is tightly controlled.”
Trump greed has repeatedly excused Saudi Arabia’s human rights abuses
Before becoming president, Trump publicly said that Saudi Arabia should pay the U.S. military for defense forces following the 2003 U.S. invasion which helped destabilize the country.
Then, after becoming president, Trump said of the country and its rulers, “I get along great with all of them. They buy apartments from me. They spend $40 million, $50 million. Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much.”
Trump’s first foreign trip as president was to Saudi Arabia, according to NPR, and during the trip he essentially said that the U.S. would look the other way on the country’s human rights abuses. “We are not here to lecture,” Trump said. “We are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship.”
Trump’s infamous “Muslim travel ban” omitted Saudi Arabia, even though it’s a Muslim-majority country where five of the 19 September 11 hijackers came from. His pledge to decriminalize homosexuality internationally also made no mention of Saudi Arabia’s grievous anti-LGBTQ record.
Trump’s son-in-law and senior White House adviser Jared Kushner also has “a very strong bond” with the country’s crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman. This might explain why, when the CIA concluded with “high confidence” that bin Salman ordered the brutal October 2018 dismembering of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi with bone saws in a Saudi consulate building in Istanbul, Turkey, Trump said, “It could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!”
“Since then,” The Nation writes, “Trump has used his veto power three more times to prevent Congress from suspending weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and its main ally, the United Arab Emirates” and has openly admitted that he didn’t want to cancel “billions of dollars in weapons sales” to Saudi Arabia. He also opposed Congress’s attempt to withdraw U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen that has “killed tens of thousands of civilians and triggered the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.”
While these weapon sales were approved by Obama before Trump became president, at least Obama and his cohorts publicly advocated for LGBTQ rights in Saudi Arabia whereas Trump never has.
Add to that the fact that the Trump administration conflates anti-LGBTQ policies with “religious freedom” and it’s easy to see how Trump has empowered Saudi Arabia to admit its animus against women and queer people despite the country’s claims to be “modernizing” towards Western values.