As President Joe Biden seeks to reassure American Muslim voters amid the war between Israel and Hamas, the White House criticized Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for downplaying what he called “so-called Islamophobia” during the GOP presidential debate Wednesday night.
“In what is a heartbreaking crisis, violence and hate speech against Muslims, Arab Americans and Sikhs is increasing across our country,” White House spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement Thursday. statement to NBC News. “President Biden believes we have an urgent duty to come together as Americans and stand up to all forms of hate. This is not to denigrate the very real suffering caused by Islamophobia; is cynical and cruel. Nor is it a matter of propagating the dangerous claim that the fight against one type of hatred somehow removes the fight against another; it is only the sign of a desperate need for personal reflection.”
During the debate, DeSantis and some other Republican candidates said the government should focus on fighting anti-Semitism, not Islamophobia.
“What is Biden doing? Not only is he not helping Jewish students who are being persecuted, but he is launching an initiative to combat so-called Islamophobia. No, it’s anti-Semitism spiraling out of control. That’s what it’s all about that we have to face,” DeSantis said.
The White House noted Thursday that Biden in May rolled out what was billed as America’s first-ever national strategy for fight againstsemitismmonths before launching a similar effort to fight Islamophobia. Late last month, the White House announced an effort to counter anti-Semitism on college campuses.
“President Biden is taking historic and forceful action against hate – against Islamophobia, against anti-Semitism, and against anyone who tries to tear Americans apart,” Bates said.
The White House and the Biden campaign are working to repair political damage to his support from Muslim and Arab voters because of his stance on the Israeli military campaign in Gaza, so they are keen to draw a contrast with Republicans, who often reject Islamophobia.
Muslim Americans voted overwhelmingly for Biden in 2020. But community leaders in swing states said they will defect of the president for his unreserved support for Israel.