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CAIR to Trump: ‘We hold you responsible for this growing anti-muslim sentiment’

Hours after online accounts with white surpremacist imagery and praising U.S. President Donald Trump were linked to two gun attacks on New Zealand mosques that left at least 49 people dead, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) called on Trump to condemn the violence as "white supremacist terrorist attacks."

“Today, the terrorist has quoted the most powerful person in the world, President Trump and I would like to address Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump, your words matter. Your policies matter. They impact the lives of innocent people at home and globally. And you should condemn this, not only as hate crime but as a white supremacist terrorist attack… During your presidency and during your election campaign, islamaphobia took a sharp rise, and attacks on innocent muslims, innocent immigrants and mosques have skyrocketed. We hold you responsible for this growing anti-muslim sentiment in the country and in Europe,” CAIR Executive Director Nihad Award told journalists at a Washington news conference.

The accused gunman’s manifesto praised Trump as “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.” The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Earlier in the day, Trump condemned the “horrible massacre” at the mosques, in what the White House called a “vicious act of hate” in a tweet.

The organization’s Director of Research and Advocacy Abbas Barzegar said that anti-immigrant rhetoric fuels fascist ideology.

“When you hear the words ‘invading immigrants,’ which we’ve heard in this administration, and we’ve seen people send stunt shows and circus shows of sending the military down to the border to do what? Nothing, except send the message that immigrants are the enemy. This trojan horse mentality is what fuels it. So it’s not about one leader who can get elected and put in and out of office, it’s not about one lone ranger out there doing something crazy. This is about an ideology that we should all recognize by now… These are fascists and we have to recognize it,” he said.

Outside a mosque in the midwestern city of Chicago, worshippers expressed their sorrow.

“It’s very bad. People they go to the (mosque), to church to pray, for no reason, for hate, it’s very bad… They (gunmen) should be peaceful, to respect other people religion and people respect each other. I don’t know why they do that for. I don’t know– I have nothing to say. They’re sick people,” said Walid Benmahfoudh (bin-mah-FOOD).

“I don’t know why people would do something like that. Muslims are really nice people; they go to pray; they mind their own business,” said another worshipper, Imad Said.

Trump drew strong criticism in the days after a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 when he equated white supremacists with counter-protesters and saying “both sides” were to blame.

He said on the anniversary of the rally in August that he condemns “all types of racism and acts of violence.”

(Production: Arlene Eiras)

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