Three YouTube vloggers participated in Thursday night's Republican debate on Fox News to ask the candidates questions “on an issue that matters to them and their communities."
"I'm happy to encourage a dialogue on an issue that I'm incredibly passionate about. Let's talk change, and let's grow together."
Lifestyle and beauty vlogger Nabela Noor was among the content creators who joined the debate, asking a question on Islamophobia that drew swift reactions online from viewers.
"In 2015, the number of hate crimes against Muslims in the U.S. has tripled and on social media, where I spend a lot of time, I've seen many attacks directed towards fellow Muslims. This culture of hatred is only driving ISIS to radicalize, recruit, and incite violence. As president, what would you do to address this toxic climate and promote increased tolerance in the United States?" Noor, who is Muslim and was born and raised in the U.S., asked.
Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush responded to Noor's question by pushing back against the creation of "an environment that's toxic in our own country," and criticized frontrunner Donald Trump's past suggestions of a ban on Muslims.
"Nabela is a rising entrepreneur," Bush said. "She wants to pursue the American dream. She's an American citizen, she should not feel uncomfortable about her citizenship. She's not the threat. The threat is Islamic terrorism."
He added, "I think it's important for us to be careful about the language we use."
The subject is one that is personal to Noor, whose video "Dear America | From a Muslim-American," posted in December, addressed the anti-Muslim rhetoric directed at her community.
"I wanted to educate people who might be confused by the things they see on the news, I wanted to give them a sense of clarity that we are just like you. I cry just as much when a tragedy occurs," Noor told NBC News in January. "I also wanted my viewers — I have a strong audience of Muslims — I wanted them to know they're not alone."
Similar to the mixed responses to Noor's "Dear America" video, her participation in Thursday's debate sparked criticism on social media and conservative blogs who pointed to a photo of the 24 year old wearing a Bernie Sanders sweatshirt as problematic. Noor responded, "I'm merely offering a fresh perspective. I'm speaking up for my community, and that doesn't mean I'm talking down to yours."
After Noor asked her question at the debate, some online immediately responded with negativity. "A Muslim cannot be a true American," one user tweeted. A commenter on the Fox News YouTube video that contained Noor's question suggested that all Muslims be deported.
But Twitter users defending Noor also chimed in quickly to show their support for the Bangladeshi-American vlogger:
Although Noor did not respond to any of the comments directed at her online, she tweeted Thursday night after the debate, "I'm happy to encourage a dialogue on an issue that I'm incredibly passionate about. Let's talk change, and let's grow together."
NBC News has reached out to Nabela Noor for comment.