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US Republican group apologises for racist ‘Jihad Squad’ post

The post attacking four minority congresswomen was removed and condemned by Illinois Republican leadership as ‘bigoted’.

Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez hold a news conference after Democrats in the US Congress moved to formally condemn President Trump's attacks on the four minority congresswomen [File: Erin Scott/Reuters]
Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez hold a news conference after Democrats in the US Congress moved to formally condemn President Trump’s attacks on the four minority congresswomen [File: Erin Scott/Reuters]

An Illinois Republican group has apologised and removed a Facebook post that showed images of four minority congresswomen who have been criticised by President Donald Trump and referred to them as the “Jihad Squad”.

The post appeared on Friday night on the Republican County Chairman’s Association page. The Chicago Tribune reported that it showed images of Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib, who sometimes refer to themselves as “the squad”, on a mock movie poster. The poster also said, “Political jihad is their game”, and “If you don’t agree with their socialist ideology, you’re racist”.

Mark Shaw, president of the Republican group, condemned what he called an “unauthorised” post and apologised to anyone who was offended.

The chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, Tim Schneider, acknowledged the social media post broadcast “bigoted rhetoric” and issued a statement to the Chicago Tribune condemning it.

“The recent social media post coming from the IRCCA does not reflect my values or the Illinois Republican Party’s values,” Schneider said. “I urge everyone who opposes them to keep the rhetoric focused on policy and ideology.”

Democrats also condemned the post, saying “this language of hatred and bigotry has no room in our society and has dangerous consequences”.

“The post perpetuates the recent attacks by President Trump, promoting lies and racism to alienate immigrants, women, and people of colour,” Cook County Democratic Chairwoman Toni Preckwinkle said in a statement to NBC News.

Trump ramps up attacks

The post came after more than a week of racist attacks by President Donald Trump on the four congresswomen of colour.

Last week, the House of Representatives voted to condemn racist tweets made by Trump in which he told the four congresswomen to “go back” to where they came from. All four congresswomen are US citizens and all but Omar were born in the country. Omar came to the US as a Somali refugee when she was 12 years old.

Since then the president has ramped up his attacks.

After first attempting to distance himself from a campaign rally crowd that chanted “send her back”, referring to Omar, Trump last week praised the crowd as “incredible” people.

On Monday, he tweeted, “The ‘Squad’ is a very racist group of troublemakers who are young, inexperienced and not very smart.”

Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Tlaib and Pressley have said they “will not be silenced” and have turned their focus on issues, including immigration, healthcare and education.

Ocasio-Cortez said on Saturday the president’s comments had been hurtful, but “men like him” have been telling women like her to go back to their own country for a long time.

“We’re gonna stay right here,” she said to applause. “That’s where we’re gonna go … We’re not going anywhere.”

Ilhan Omar on her 9/11 comments, Trump, and US-Saudi relationsTalk to Al Jazeera

Ilhan Omar on her 9/11 comments, Trump, and US-Saudi relations

SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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