A member from the school board from Toms River, New Jersey, is facing severe backlash after it was discovered he has shared many disparaging posts against Muslims on his Facebook page.
Dan “D.P.” Leonard made posts that were critical of specific Muslim lawmakers, but also shared more general posts that lambasted the faith as well, Yahoo News reported.
In one of his postings, Leonard targeted Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan), a Muslim member of Congress who has also been the subject of vitriolic attacks from President Donald Trump in recent weeks. Leonard wrote on Tlaib, “my life would be complete if she/they would die.”
A separate post targeted Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota), another congresswoman who has been targeted by Trump in recent days. Leonard described Omar as a “terrorist…100 percent.”
In general terms, Leonard has also targeted the faith without a name being attached to it. He shared an image, for example, of a Barbie doll dressed in a hijab, which was labeled as “Sharia Barbie.” The caption of the image read, “Comes with jihab [sic], bruises, & Quran.”
Despite calls to resign from Muslim advocacy groups, Toms River school board member Dan Leonard says he has no plans to leave. https://t.co/kEbKgFligM
— Asbury Park Press (@AsburyParkPress) July 25, 2019
It’s likely that Leonard will face an ethics investigation as many citizens have filed a complaint over his social media commentary. Leonard has so far refused to apologize for his remarks online, telling constituents at a meeting on Wednesday evening that his remarks were toward specific lawmakers, and that he had no problems with the religion itself.
He cited the fact that one of the lawmakers he posted about “is trying to shut down a federal agency of the government,” and that his point in calling for her was to say “let her starve.”
“How is that offensive to Muslims, just because she’s Muslim?” Leonard said.
In addition to not issuing an apology, Leonard has also refused to resign from his position, the Asbury Park Press reported.
Advocates for Muslims across the country have recorded a huge spike in recent years of hate crimes directed toward them. Zainab Arain speaking to Pacific Standard, explained that some of the rise in hate crime numbers stems from vitriolic anti-Muslim rhetoric.
“A lot of the rise in anti-Muslim bigotry is also related to the rise in public displays of white supremacy and white nationalism, coordinated with white nationalist militias to host anti-Muslim rallies across the country,” Arain said.