SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.- Deedra Abboud is believed to be the first Muslim senator candidate in Arizona history.
When the democrat posted a promotional video on her Facebook page. She received a barrage of hateful messages.
“The escalation was a comment a minute. I mean consistent all through the night and continues today,” Abboud said. “The level of words was not shocking to me. I’ve had it before and also when I announced. Just not the number.”
Some of the Facebook posts read:
"Islam equals terrorism"
"No terrorists in the senate"
"Oh great another Rag Head"
But Abboud is getting some support from an unlikely source, Republican Senator Jeff Flake, the man whose job she wants.
Senator Flake tweeted: "Hang in there. Sorry you have to put up with this. Lot's of wonderful people across AZ. You'll find them."
“It was surprising. I appreciated it and I think he has shown that we in Arizona can change the conversation about politics,” Abboud said.
Abboud is a former civil rights lawyer and activist. She was born and raised in the Deep South in Arkansas. Converting to Islam shortly after moving to Arizona.
While Abboud knows the political arena can get nasty, she still had to reassure her campaign staff.
“My staff was completely hurt. Didn't know what to do with it. Had never seen that level of hatred in another person,” Abboud said.
This isn’t the first time senator Flake has reached out to the Muslim community.
in 2015, he visited a congregation at a Scottsdale Mosque where he said, “I'll bet you thought you would never see a Mormon speak at a Mosque.”
Abboud says she's encouraged by the senator's tweet.
“I think Flake’s tweet and my history of positive messaging and really talking to the constituents. That we can show leadership in Arizona. How we can change the political landscape. How we as candidates can go out and show we're the best candidate out," Abboud said. "You should vote for me because I'm the best candidate, not because someone has something you should dislike.”
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