Officials react after Illinois Republican group posts ‘Jihad Squad’ photo on Facebook

CHICAGO — A racist and inflammatory social media image calling four congresswomen of color the ‘Jihad Squad,” has drawn widespread condemnation from Democratic leaders, Republican Party officials and civil rights activists.

The Illinois Republican County Chairman’s Association posted an image Friday night featuring a fake movie poster for the “Jihad Squad.” The tag line read, “Political jihad is their game, if you don’t agree with their socialist ideology you’re racist.”

The post features Congresswomen Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib who often refer to themselves as a "squad."

The group has deleted the Facebook post and apologized for it, but some are saying it should have never been posted in the first place.

The controversy comes after President Donald Trump tweeted that the women should go back to the countries they came from, even though three of them were born in the United States. Over the weekend, he tweeted again, calling the women weak and insecure people who are destroying the Democrat party, saying he doesn’t think they are capable of loving the country.

One group has said that the president — and those elected officials in Illinois who spread his sentiments should be punished.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations has called for legislation to deal with hate speech from elected officials. CAIR is pushing federal legislation that would censure elected officials who engage in hate speech.

“We feel this incites violence, and we feel that elected officials have a responsibility to be held to the same standards that all Americans are held to,” Maaria Mozaffar, CAIR Chicago, said.

Ahmed Rehab, the executive director of CAIR, said even though the image been taken down from the group's page, the damage has already been done.

“It’s not sufficient to merely take down something as terrible as this, the fact that it was there in the first place, is still a fact,” Rehab said.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) said he holds Trump responsible for the debasing and poisoning of the public discourse.

“The politics of Donald Trump are very contagious, the vectors of this infection that he’s putting into the Republican party are fear and hate and racism. Republicans across the board have to resist this,” he said.

Mark Shaw, the president of the Illinois Republican County Chairman’s Association and the person in charge of the Facebook page, said the image was not authorized to be posted and he’s sorry if anyone was offended.

Tim Schneider, the chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, condemned the post, in a written statement he said: "The recent social media post coming from the IRCCA does not reflect my values or the Illinois Republican Party's values. Bigoted rhetoric greatly distracts from legitimate and important policy debates.”

The Illinois Republican County Chairman’s Association is a political action committee. The website says it’s dedicated to electing Republicans in Illinois. Jim Oberweis and Richard Uihlein have contributed thousands of dollars to the organization.

The association says it’s now re-evaluating their internal processes when it comes to authorizing social media posts.

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