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Sen. Jeff Flake reaches out to bullied Muslim candidate eyeing his job

(Screenshot; AP Photo)
LISTEN: Deedra Abboud, candidate for Senate

PHOENIX –A Phoenix Democrat and Muslim running for office has learned how bipartisanship works, after a Republican offered support after she was bullied online.

Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) tweeted support to Deedra Abboud, a lawyer who has been the target of online abuse for the past few weeks.

Flake told her to “hang in there” in his tweet.

Abboud replied to the tweet, saying she appreciated the senator’s support.

Comments on a video posted to Abboud’s campaign Facebook on June 30 ranged from mocking her hijab (a traditional Muslim women’s head wrap) to abusive name-calling.

Abboud said she expected abuse during her campaign, although she was unsure what would trigger it.

“I came into this eyes wide open,” she told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac & Gaydos. “I knew what this would pull out of the woodwork and I was prepared for it.”

Abboud said she and her staff investigated the people who made the comments and found more than half were fake accounts. Another large portion were made by people who live outside of Arizona.

The lawyer also said she had been targeted by white supremacists outside of a campaign event she held and, though she’s running for office in Arizona, knows those voice do not speak for her state.

“I know for a fact that this does not reflect Arizona,” she said. “I’ve been all over this state for 20 years and Arizonans are wonderful people.”

Abboud said she is not running to prove a point, but start a dialogue about attitudes toward others in our country.

“What I have is an American value that we can do better,” she said.

Abboud said she would like to see herself and other Muslims portrayed in a positive light from time to time, rather than as victims or perpetrators.

“Muslims are doing everything they can on a daily basis to be a good American,” she said.

Abboud, who’s also a community activist, announced her candidacy in April.

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