Trump sparks condemnation after supporters chant ‘send her back’

The row between President Donald Trump and four Democratic congresswomen has escalated after his supporters chanted “send her back” at a campaign rally.

The chant was directed at Somali-born lawmaker Ilhan Omar, though Mr Trump had also attacked three other non-white lawmakers during his speech.

Ms Omar, who is a US citizen, responded on Twitter by quoting a poem by civil rights activist Maya Angelou.

Ahead of the rally, a bid to impeach Mr Trump was blocked in Congress.

The controversial chants took place at Mr Trump’s campaign rally in North Carolina.

Mr Trump was cheered on by the crowd of thousands as he again accused Ms Omar and her fellow congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashia Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley – known as “the squad” – of hating America.

Critics say it echoed the “lock her up” phrase adopted by his supporters against Hillary Clinton in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

What’s the reaction?

In response, Ms Omar tweeted lines from Maya Angelou’s poem Still I Rise: “You may shoot me with your words…But still, like air, I’ll rise.”

On Twitter, #IStandWithIlhan began trending as Democrats expressed their support for Ms Omar and criticised the president for prompting the chants with his rhetoric.

As of Thursday morning, there are over 180,000 tweets with the tag, while #SendHerBack and #IStandWithPresTrump have just over 4,000 total.

Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Bernie Sanders tweeted: “Trump is stoking the most despicable and disturbing currents in our society.”

Senator Kamala Harris, another Democratic 2020 contender, described the actions as “vile”.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi simply told reporters: “We condemned the president’s comments the other day. That’s our statement.”

Some conservatives have also censured the use of the phrase.

Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee Tom Emmer – who, like Ms Omar, represents Minnesota in Congress – told reporters he did not agree with the language.

“There’s no place for that kind of talk,” Mr Emmer said, according to Politico, though he stopped short of calling the chants racist. He said the chant was “not acceptable”.

North Carolina congressman Mark Walker said that he “struggled” with the chant and that the focus should be on “her history, words & actions” instead of “phrasing that’s painful to our friends in the minority communities”.

His fellow Republican Adam Kinzinger said the chants were “ugly”.

Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro said “chanting for her deportation based on her exercise of the First Amendment is disgusting”.

Senator Lindsay Graham, a vocal Trump supporter, defended the president, though he said he wished Mr Trump would focus on “policies not the personality”.

“I’ve said before that if you’re a Somali refugee wearing a Maga hat, he doesn’t want to send you back. You’d probably have dinner at the White House,” Mr Graham told reporters.

The South Carolina Republican added: “I don’t like it – I’m not going around telling anybody to leave the country who’s an American citizen.”

Republican leader Mitch McConnell told the Fox Business Network on Thursday that Mr Trump is “on to something” by attacking the four congresswomen as their policies will be important in the upcoming election.

“We’re in a big debate now and next year about what we want America to be like. Do we really think socialism applies here at a time of great prosperity, 50-year-low unemployment?”

 

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