A New York candidate for U.S. Senate who was asked to apologize for a series of tweets that some say were biased against Muslims told NBC News Wednesday she “made no ‘anti-Muslim’ comments” and said “political correctness is killing our country.”
The tweets came on Aug. 11 from the account of Republican nominee Wendy Long, a New York City lawyer running against Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY). Long was visiting the North Side neighborhood of Syracuse, New York, which has seen an influx of international refugees, according to news website Syracuse.com
One tweet from Long’s account shows a photo of what appears to be two Muslim women in traditional head coverings walking on a sidewalk. The caption reads, “Catholic Charities takes federal tax dollars to resettle the refugees we can't screen. Leaves the Catholics to ISIS.”
Also tweeted was a photo of a church with the caption, “Welcome to Syracuse: Holy Trinity Church, beautiful church of German and Italian immigrants, is now a mosque.” Another tweet shows a close-up of the church spire, whose crosses had been replaced with the Islamic crescent symbol. The text reads, “Crosses down, crescents up.”
The 100-year-old Holy Trinity Church was purchased by the North Side Learning Center from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse in December 2013 and converted into a mosque to accommodate a growing Muslim population, according to Syracuse.com.
Long took issue with criticism of the tweets.
“I made no ‘anti-Muslim’ comments,” she said in an email to NBC News. “Political correctness is killing our country. Why don't you do some reporting on real issues — including the real issues of poverty, joblessness, the decline of our upstate New York cities, and the fact that we have refugees streaming into this country without adequate screening and whom we cannot accommodate except by spending more tax dollars we don't have with $20 trillion in debt?”
A fourth tweet in the series from Long’s account showed a photo of a boarded-up house with the caption, “Neighborhood where the mosque displaced the church. Crime prostitution money laundering. Nice Dem control of cities.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a civil liberties and advocacy nonprofit, condemned the tweets.
“Once again we see a Republican candidate stoking anti-Muslim bigotry based on stereotypes and falsehoods,” CAIR-NY executive director Afaf Nasher said in a statement. “We demand that Ms. Long apologize for the harm she has done to the Syracuse Muslim community.”
Two new tweets about Muslims appeared on Long’s account Wednesday.
The first was a photo of what appears to be Long, seven others, and a dog inside a home, with a caption that reads, “Some of my oldest and dearest friends are Muslim. I am pro Muslim & pro American. Anti anything that hurts America.”
Another was a black-and-white outdoor photo of what appears to be a younger Long with two women and text that reads, “Our original Muslim American friendship society...Love my dear friends and all who love and respect America.”