I've been shown this image a few times:

Obama in front of a Muslim Prayer Curtain

Naturally, it's a little ridiculous, because there are surely at least a thousand pictures of him near an American flag.

But it is making a claim that the yellowish curtain behind Obama is some kind of Muslim prayer related thing. Is that accurate? If someone can find the location of this photograph that will probably tell us exactly what, if any, meaning the curtain has, besides showing somebody's serious lack in decent decor tastes.

  • 9
    this is a notable claim, snopes.com/politics/obama/photos/ovaloffice.asp I know alot of snopes answers get reposted here.
    – Himarm
    Mar 24, 2015 at 18:39
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    i dont want to just copy paste snopes, without doing the research myself, and i dont feel like doing the research myself.
    – Himarm
    Mar 24, 2015 at 18:53
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    Prayer mats I've heard of, but is there even such a thing as a prayer curtain? I get the impression it's just one more example of someone who doesn't like Obama being extremely petty and childish because they lack the intelligence to attack him for his track record.
    – GordonM
    Mar 24, 2015 at 19:04
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    GWB seems to have British flags behind him. Did that indicate opposition to the American revolution? Clinton may have an Italian or Mexican flag there.
    – Henry
    Mar 24, 2015 at 21:12
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    Most likely the Tea Party is behind this, e.g. see this on their website. Mar 24, 2015 at 21:22

2 Answers 2


The claim that Obama is standing in front of a Muslim prayer curtain is false. This meme has gone really viral and has been debunked on over 10 websites online. The picture that you see is taken in the East Room.

The East Room, designed for "public audience", is an events and reception room in the White House, the home of the President of the United States.

What you see behind Obama is simply:

gold silk lampas curtains

It is reported that those gold silk lampas curtains have been in the East Room since the John F. Kennedy administration.

They were designed by noted ballet and theatrical designer Jo Mielziner:

Mielziner crafted a stage which took up a full third of the East Room, and featured cream white-painted pilasters matching the room's architecture. Mileziner originally wanted the stage's curtains to have the same fabric used for the East Room drapes. But when he learned of the cost, he settled for American-made gold silk curtains instead. The larger stage took eight men three days to set up. (1)

In September 2003, during the administration of George W. Bush, minor refurbishment were made to the East Room, and gold silks were replaced:

The Committee for the Preservation of the White House had become dissatisfied with the golden silk swag valances installed during the Reagan presidency. The Kennedy-era Old World Weavers Empire-style gold draperies were replaced with nearly identical ones, but the swags were made 12 inches (30 cm) deeper to make them appear more substantial. The room was repainted in the same warm cream color it had for the last century. The refurbishment cost $200,000, and was paid for by private donations to the White House Endowment Fund. (2)

Here is a photo of Lyndon B. Johnson's daughter, Lynda Johnson, wedding in the East Room (source: celebritybrideguide.com) back in 1967. Note the gold curtains in the background:

Wedding of Lynda Johnson and Chuck Robb in the East Room, with golden curtains visible in the background

Another picture of Gerald Ford, the 38th U.S. President, being sworm as a president in 1974, also clearly shows gold curtains:

Golden curtains in the background of Gerald Ford's swearing-in

Also, a picture of Bush standing in front of a gold silk:

George Bush and Andrew Wyeth standing in front of gold curtains

Reddit responded to the meme in its own way (with another meme):

A meme showing former U.S. officials with the golden curtains, and Obama walking away with the caption "I am even being blamed for the curtains... Are you serious...?"

Additionally, according to members of islam.se, there is no such thing as a Muslim prayer curtain.

So, the claim that President Obama has a so-called a Muslim prayer curtain is not only erroneous but ridiculous too.

(1) West, J.B.; Kotz, Mary Lynn (1973). Upstairs at the White House: My Life With the First Ladies. New York: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan. ISBN 069810546X.

(2) Koncius, Jura (September 25, 2003). "Open Door Policy At the White House". The Washington Post.

  • 78
    It's also worth adding that there is no such thing as a "Muslim prayer curtain", just like there is no "Christian prayer carpet" or a "Jewish prayer lampshade".
    – MMM
    Mar 24, 2015 at 20:21
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    The answer refutes the claim, but just for sport: It's still possible that the curtains amount to being a Muslim prayer curtain, so long as there is such a thing. For example, if the criteria for being a Muslim-prayer curtain are that a person prays to Allah in front of it, and if Obama has done so, then it's such a curtain. Alternatively, perhaps, a Muslim prayer-curtain is any generic prayer-curtain with a Muslim pattern on it. (There's Muslim architecture; presumably, there are Muslim patterns).
    – Hal
    Mar 24, 2015 at 22:56
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    I am a muslim and although I don't really want to invoke an appeal to authority I can authoritively state that there is no such thing as a muslim prayer curtain. And that includes sects of Islam the majority of Islam don't consider as muslims - Shia Islam. Even the Bahai', who base their religion on the Quran but neither the Shia nor Suni consider muslim (and themselves distance themselves from the rest of Islam) don't use a prayer curtain. Prayer rugs yes, no such thing as curtain.
    – slebetman
    Mar 25, 2015 at 2:07
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    Additional note: I'd like to point out that mosques, prayer halls and suraus (mini-mosques), like most other buildings, do tend to have curtains. But they're just curtain curtains. Just like the airconditioning in mosques are just airconditioning and toilets are just toilets. They don't have any religious significance.
    – slebetman
    Mar 25, 2015 at 2:09
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    No such thing as a muslim prayer curtain? Nonsense! Everyone knows muslims pray while kneeling on a window... Sep 28, 2018 at 7:20

I am a Muslim and I find the claim laughable. There is no such thing as Muslim prayer curtain in Islam. This is completely false and has been debunked by multiple reliable sources. Snopes (a website dedicated to debunking internet hoaxs) writes:

enter image description here

The photograph displayed directly above is taken from a press conference held by President Obama in the East Room of the White House on 27 May 2010 to address issues related to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. On this occasion, it was the case that no U.S. flags were present (i.e., within visible camera range) in the East Room. However, the implication in the accompanying text that the lack of flags demonstrates President Obama to be engaging in a form of unprecedented, aberrant presidential behavior is erroneous.

Although it is typical practice that U.S. flags are present as a backdrop whenever the President of the United States speaks to the press or engages in other types of public appearances, such displays are not always present. Due to other factors (e.g., an event's nature, or its being impromptu, its being held at an unusual location) an opportunity to set up U.S. flag backdrops may be missed or skipped, or flags may be present but simply not visible in the camera angles used by photographers, so it's not hard to turn up photographs of the other recent Presidents referenced above addressing the press with no U.S. flags visible anywhere:

enter image description here enter image description here

Muslims generally pray in prayer rugs like this one (these are like any other ordinary rug and have no religious significance):

enter image description here

Perhaps the person who made this meme doesn't know the difference between a prayer rug and a curtain. :D


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