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GOP senator defends Democratic opponent after she’s attacked for being Muslim
Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake (R), who is up for re-election in 2018, defended his potential Democratic opponent after she was attacked on social media because of her Muslim faith. (2016 file photo/Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

GOP senator defends Democratic opponent after she’s attacked for being Muslim

Every once in a while, politicians forget about the letters behind their names and just do the right thing.

That is the case with Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake (R), who is defending possible Democratic opponent Deedra Abboud, a Muslim, Phoenix-based lawyer who faced mean-spirited backlash after posting a Facebook status about the separation of church and state.

While the message itself was fairly benign, the response was not. Abboud was almost immediately inundated with hateful messages after she published the post.

One Facebook user wrote, “Nice try but your first love is Satan (AKA Allah) and your second love is to a litter box your ‘people’ come from.”

Another commented: “BAN ISLAM IN THE USA…WE HATE YOUR FILTHY DEATH CULT.” And yet another person added: “I bet you’ll be a BLAST with constituents.”

But rather than let it go unacknowledged, Flake, who is up for re-election next year, offered some encouragement to his liberal opponent after seeing an Arizona Central article about the ordeal. “Hang in there,” the 54-year-old incumbent tweeted Tuesday.

Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy (D) joined in on the bipartisan moment, complimenting Flake for his kind-hearted message. In a tweet, he described his Republican colleague as “one of the most decent people I know.”

Abboud responded to Flake’s encouraging tweet early Wednesday morning, thanking the lawmaker for his “leadership in rejecting behavior that doesn’t reflect our American values,” adding that Arizona needs “more of this.”

Flake’s olive branch to his Democratic opponent falls in line with the message of many GOP lawmakers, who last month — on the heels of a shooting where Republicans, including Flake, were practicing for the Congressional Baseball Game — said the rhetoric on Capitol Hill had gotten too heated.

At the time, Flake told Fox News that the hateful rhetoric was “out of control” in Washington, D.C. He said it is incumbent upon lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to make clear to their constituents that violence is unacceptable.

“It does start with us. It will filter down,” he said. “We just need to model better behavior. We do too much on both sides, and I include myself in that.”

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