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Illinois GOP Group Removes Post Calling Congresswomen 'Jihad Squad'

Jihad Squad Facebook post

UPDATED 2:45 p.m. | An Illinois Republican group has apologized and removed from its Facebook page a post that showed images of four Democratic congresswomen who have been criticized by President Donald Trump and referred to them as the "Jihad Squad."

The post appeared Friday night on the Republican County Chairman's Association page. It showed images of Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib on a poster. It said: "Political jihad is their game," and "If you don't agree with their socialist ideology, you're racist."

The four congresswomen sometimes refer to themselves as the "squad."

Mark Shaw, president of the GOP group, condemned what he called an "unauthorized" post and apologized to anyone who was offended. Trump harshly criticized progressive members of Congress without identifying them by name, tweeting that they should go back to where they came from. All four are U.S. citizens and only Omar was born in a foreign country.

The McLean County Republican Party also issued a statement Sunday via Facebook, supporting the post's removal and calling for a "focus on the issues of policy."

"(It was) absolutely a mistake for the state (page) to have let that slip in. It's not reflective at all of our views and beliefs," said McLean County GOP chair Connie Beard. "Social media is a blessing and curse at the same time. All it takes is one post to cause a fire. I work hard to be respectful and civil in my conversations and communications."

Illinois Republican Party chair Tim Schneider also condemned the post.

“I strongly condemn evoking race or religion as the basis for political disagreement," he said in a statement. "The recent social media post coming from the IRCCA does not reflect my values or the Illinois Republican Party’s values. Bigoted rhetoric greatly distracts from legitimate and important policy debates and further divides our nation. My intense disagreement with the socialist policies and anti-semitic language of these four congresswomen has absolutely nothing to do with their race or religion. I urge everyone who also opposes them to keep the rhetoric focused on policy and political ideology."

The McLean County Democrats issued a press release Sunday about the post.

“Like our friends at the Illinois Democratic County Chairs' Association, we won't share or amplify the disgusting image put forth by the Illinois Republican County Chairs Association on their social media,” Erik Rankin, chair of the McLean County Democrats, said in a statement. “We find it inappropriate, bigoted and sickening. Our state and our country are better than this. Graphics supporting the President's racist tweets and policies should have no place in our politics. We call on the McLean County Republican chair to denounce this image."

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Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.