Republican Assembly member criticized for 'offensive' Islam tweet

Critics blast Assemblymember Melissa Melendez's tweet reacting to death of American hostage Kayla Mueller

Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, a Republican from Lake Elsinore, is facing heat Thursday for a tweet that included the phrase "stand up against Islam."

Melendez, a U.S. Navy veteran now serving her second Assembly term, posted a messsage on her Twitter account Tuesday morning responding to the death of Kayla Mueller, a 26-year-old American held hostage in Syria by the militant group Islamic State.

"Gut wrenching news today. American Kayla Mueller murdered by Islamic savages. There MUST be consequences. MM #standupagainstIslam," Melendez wrote.

The message was flagged by Democratic operatives Thursday afternoon. It quickly generated a backlash on Twitter, with critics saying the hashtag #standupagainstIslam wrongly conflates the actions of Islamic State with the religion as a whole.

Sarah Moussa, chair of the Arab-American Caucus of the California Democratic Party, said the comments were "profoundly misguided and deeply offensive to people of Islamic faith."

"In addition, we would like to point out to the Assemblymember that comments painting all members of a single faith with a broad brush have far-reaching consequences that reverberate not only throughout the state, but throughout our nation," Moussa said in a statement. "The same day that the Assemblywoman posted her offensive tweet, three young, innocent Muslim students were murdered in North Carolina," a reference to a triple homicide in Chapel Hill

On Thursday afternoon, Melendez issued a statement about her tweet and the reaction that followed.

“It was never my intention to offend peaceful Muslims. However, I’ve had enough of Islamic extremists and terrorists who oppress women and burn people alive in the modern world," the statement said. "This isn’t about hashtags, it’s about America standing up with our allies and putting an end to the barbaric behavior we are witnessing around the world.”

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