In his latest round of controversial comments, Republican presidential contender Donald Trump repeated a long debunked story about a U.S. general using bullets dipped in pigs’ blood to execute Muslim prisoners.
According to Trump, during the Philippine-American War of 1899-1902, Gen. John Pershing captured 50 “radical Islamic terrorists” and executed 49 of them with the blood-soaked bullets.
“They took the 50, they lined them up. They took a pig and then took a second pig and they cut the pig open and they took the bullets from the rifles. And they dumped the bullets into the pigs and they swashed it around,” he told a large rally of supporters in Costa Mesa, Calif., Thursday. “Then they took the bullets and they shot 49 of the 50 people.”
“The fiftieth person, they said, ‘Take this bullet and bring it back to all of the people causing the problem’ and tell ‘em what happened tonight,” Trump told a cheering crowd. “And for 42 years they didn’t have a problem with radical Islamic terrorism, folks, OK believe me.”
The myth which has circulated in corners of the internet for years and has been dismissed by several fact-checking websites, including Snopes and Politifact, which have called it false and unsupported by any kind of historical documentation.
Trump told the same story at a rally earlier in February in South Carolina.
Historians who spoke with Politifact in February called the story a fabrication.
“This story is a fabrication and has long been discredited,” Brian McAllister Linn, a Texas A&M University historian told the website. “I am amazed it is still making the rounds.”
The myth-busting website Snopes also found no evidence to back up the story.
“We haven’t yet found any references to this alleged incident in Pershing biographies, however, nor does it match the way Pershing is generally recorded as having dealt with the Moros in 1911,” the site concludes. Moro people is a term for the population of Muslims in the Philippines.
Muslim-American groups expressed outrage at Trump’s remarks. A spokesperson for the Council on American-Islamic Relations called the latest remarks “outrageous.”
“It’s really outrageous that the leading GOP presidential candidate would repeat an Islamaphobic claim that he knows is a lie, he knows it’s a hoax,” said Ibrahim Hooper, the national communications director for CAIR.
“He repeats it because he knows it plays to his audience and to the growing Islamaphobia in our society that he is contributing to greatly.”
Violence broke out in the streets as protesters and supporters of Trump clashed in the streets leading to roughly 20 arrests.