Biden uses sarcastic Arabic phrase to mock Trump during debate

American Muslims and others praised Democratic nominee Joe Biden on social media after he shot back at President Trump with a particularly sarcastic response during Tuesday night’s chaotic presidential debate.

The remark came midway through the debate after the moderator asked Mr. Trump to comment on recent New York Times reporting that alleged Mr. Trump only paid $750 in federal taxes the year he entered the White House.

“Millions of dollars,” Mr. Trump said of the amount he claims to have paid, “and you’ll get to see it.”

“When? Inshallah?” Biden retorted. 

While the phrase literally translates to “God willing,” in Arabic and Farsi, it is also often used colloquially by many to indicate something is probably unlikely to happen. For instance, if a child were to ask his mother for ice cream, and she said “inshallah,” he’d know he probably won’t be getting ice cream. 

“Yes, Joe Biden said, ‘Inshallah’ during the #Debates2020 debate,” political commentator Wajahat Ali tweeted. “It literally means ‘God willing,’ but it’s often used to mean, ‘Yeah, never going to happen.’ Example: My wife: Will you finally pick up your socks? Me: Inshallah. No, saying inshallah doesn’t make you Muslim.”

Muslim Americans and others immediately began their own debate on whether the former vice president had used one of the most widespread phrases in the Arab world while noting that he’d used it in its widely known sarcastic meaning.

Some claimed Biden’s remark was “a historic moment in America,” adding it had inclusionary significance for many American Muslims.

Others, however, criticized Biden’s humorous use of the phrase, calling it “colonial and derogatory.”

Many debated whether Biden had said “in July” or “Enchilada” rather than the common Arabic expression, but Asma Khalid, an NPR political correspondent, said she confirmed with Biden’s campaign that he had in fact used the phrase.

In 2016, the phrase made national headlines after an Iraqi American college student said he was unfairly removed from a flight after a fellow passenger was alarmed when he heard him speak Arabic — in a conversation that ended with “inshallah.”

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