CAIRO - Remarks by Republican candidate Gabriela Saucedo Mercer that the lifetime goal of Middle Easterners is to cause harm to the United States are sparking outrage for preaching hate and bigotry against Muslims in the country.
"We urge responsible leaders of the Republican Party in Arizona and nationwide to repudiate Ms. Mercer's bigoted comments," Imraan Siddiqi, member of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)'s chapter in Arizona said in a statement obtained by OnIslam.net.
"Her un-American and intolerant remarks are an insult to the millions of Americans of Middle Eastern heritage who have contributed so much to this great nation."
Mercer, who was born in Mexico and is a naturalized US citizen, said in a video aired Tuesday that she does not want to see Middle Easterners in the US as their goal is only to cause harm to the country.
If you know Middle Easterners, a lot of them they look Mexican or like a lot of people in South America - dark skin, dark hair, brown eyes, and they mix in," she said in the interview, recorded last year by WesternFreePress.com.
"And those people, their only goal in life is to cause harm to the United States. So why do we want them here, either legally or illegally?"
Mercer, a Tea Party-backed candidate, won the support of the Republican Party on Tuesday to run in an Arizona congressional district that flanks the Mexican border.
She is running on a platform of tighter border security, opposition to abortion and defense of gun rights.
Arizona has been in the national spotlight after a US Supreme Court ruling in June allowed a controversial "show-your-papers" measure that permits police to ask anyone they stop for other reasons about their immigration status.
The measure is part of a crackdown on illegal immigration signed in 2010 by Republican Governor Jan Brewer.
Backers said it was needed because of the federal government's failure to secure the state's porous border with Mexico.
But opponents denounce the law as a mandate for racial profiling.
Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison denounced the Republican candidate for sowing fears and division in the congressional race.
"I am disappointed in Gabriela Saucedo Mercer's decision to inject division and fear into the election in Arizona's Third District," Rep. Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, said.
"America was founded on the fundamental belief in liberty in justice for ALL, regardless of race, religion, nationality, or background.
The American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee, a non-sectarian civil rights and civil liberties group, also slammed the Republican candidate's words, according to Reuters.
Mercer's remark once again exemplifies the bigotry and racism rampant within the Republican Party, and politics as a whole."
The nonprofit group called on Republican Party leaders, including presidential candidate Mitt Romney, to condemn Mercer's remarks and "move away from the politics of hate and fear."
Mercer's rival candidate, Raul Grijalva, described the remarks as reckless hate speech.
"This is not a he-said, she-said question of interpretation. Her comments are reprehensible and deserve condemnation from every quarter, he said in a statement.
Anyone who continues to support her campaign should be asked whether they want someone with her views in Congress.
The Republican Party has been dismissive to Muslims over the anti-Islam campaigns played by its candidates to win votes.
Former candidate Newt Gingrich had described Islamic Shari`ah as a mortal threat to the United States.
Former Republican aspirant Rick Santorum had also described Islamic Shari`ah as "an existential threat" to America.Recently, a Republican Missouri lawmaker described Islam as a disease like polio while another Alaska Rep. branded Muslims as occupiers' of American neighborhoods.