U.S. President Donald Trump has been accused of racism after posting tweets attacking Democratic congresswomen – two of them Muslim.
He claimed the women “originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe,” before suggesting they “go back.”
The tweet was directed at a group of four congresswomen, three of whom were born and raised in the U.S. while the fourth moved to America as a child.
The women – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley and Ilhan Omar, who came to the US as a refugee aged 12, have all called the president racist, and have been backed by members of the Democratic Party.
In a three-tweet thread, Mr Trump accused the congresswomen of “viciously” criticising him and the US.
The president did not explicitly name the women he was talking about, but the context – and references to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – made a clear link. He said Ms Pelosi would happily organise for them to leave the country.
A week ago, Ms Pelosi clashed with the four women – sometimes nicknamed “the squad” – but she has since come to their defence following his tweets.
The president wrote: “So interesting to see ‘progressive’ Democrat congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful nation on earth, how our government is to be run.
“Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done.
“These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!”
Ms Tlaib, congresswoman for Michigan’s 13th district, tweeted calling for Mr Trump’s impeachment. “Want a response to a lawless and complete failure of a president? He is the crisis. His dangerous ideology is the crisis. He needs to be impeached,” she wrote.
Ms Ocasio-Cortez tweeted at Mr Trump: “On top of not accepting an America that elected us, you cannot accept that we don’t fear you either. You are angry because you can’t conceive of an America that includes us. You rely on a frightened America for your plunder.
You won’t accept a nation that sees healthcare as a right or education as a #1 priority, especially where we’re the ones fighting for it. Yet here we are.”
Ms Omar told the president that he was “stoking white nationalism because you are angry that people like us are serving in Congress and fighting against your hate-filled agenda”.
And Ms Pressley shared a screenshot of Mr Trump’s tweet, adding: “THIS is what racism looks like. WE are what democracy looks like.”
Mr Trump has been accused of racism many times in connection with different incidents.
For years, he made false claims that former President Barack Obama was not born in the U.S. – propagating the racist “birther” conspiracy. He has also made numerous slurs against Central American migrants, calling them criminals and rapists. In 2018, he faced criticism from both Democrats and Republicans after reports said that during a meeting at the White House he called African nations “shitholes”.
When white supremacists marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, resulting in the death of 32-year-old counter protester Heather Heyer, the president said there were “good people on both sides”.
Mr Trump and his father Fred Trump were sued by the Department of Justice in 1973 for discrimination against African Americans in their renting practices. They settled the case without admitting guilt in 1975 but were accused again by the justice department in 1978 of an “underlying pattern of discrimination” against black tenants.
In 2018, President Trump told a reporter: “I am not a racist. I’m the least racist person you have ever interviewed“.