RAPERT IN THE HEADLINES

An unrepentant Sen. Jason Rapert has gotten national attention from Huffington Post for a long history of anti-Muslim remarks in addition to a recent remark that got him locked out of Twitter. He’s being quoted “out of context,” he says.

Earlier this month, Arkansas state Sen. Jason Rapert (R) garnered attention from civil rights groups and local politicians for posting anti-Muslim and Islamophobic comments online. But an investigation into his online presence has found that it wasn’t the first time Rapert shared Islamophobic views.

HuffPost discovered nearly 20 tweets where Rapert, who represents District 35 in Arkansas, smeared Muslims and shared conspiracy theories about Islam.

The report follows Rapert’s remark on Twitter after the November elections about success of Muslim candidates.

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In the caption, the 46-year-old ordained minister wrote: “95% of Muslim voters participated in this year’s midterm election. Do you want them ruling everything in America?” After Twitter locked his account, citing a violation of its hateful conduct policy, Rapert took to Facebook Live to complain about “Twitter’s double standards and bias against Christian Conservatives.” His livestream lasted 48 minutes.

It was not the first antagonism Rapert had displayed toward Muslim. He’s ranted, the article notes, about immigration of Muslims and said they have “raped, pillaged and killed.” He’s subscribed to the bogus Obama-as-Muslim theories.

The article includes Arkansas people speaking out.

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Aneesah Dawan is the director of government relations at the Islamic Center for Human Excellence in Little Rock, Arkansas, approximately 30 miles away from Rapert’s district. She told HuffPost that the state senator’s comments were not surprising to her as a Muslim American who was born and raised in in the state. Dawan is more concerned that Rapert’s sentiment is not only shared by him but by the people who voted for him.

“You don’t get a leader that is not to some degree representative of the people who elected them,” she said. Dawan and her mosque are planning to reach out to Rapert to discuss his anti-Muslim views in hopes he retracts them and changes his perception on American Muslims.

The article also quoted Dr. Sara Tariq (who happens to have been appointed Monday to Frank Scott Jr.’s transition team as mayor of Little Rock.)

Like Dawan, 46-year-old physician Sara Tariq also hopes Rapert will one day visit a mosque to correct his grossly inaccurate sentiments against the Muslim community. But Tariq, the mother of two teens who has lived in Little Rock for nearly four decades, isn’t as hopeful. She said Rapert, who won his re-election this fall, is “well-known” in the Arkansas Muslim community for his history of Islamophobic comments.

“My mind is boggled to see that he was elected again. I have difficulty reconciling that people in this state who are so kind, so friendly and so warm can also embrace this aspect of his views,” Tariq said.

Many in her community have kept silent, fearful that speaking up might come with public backlash, but Tariq said she’s personally fed up. 

The article quotes from Rapert’s Facebook video in defense of his remarks. It also said:

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In a phone call to HuffPost, Rapert defended his tweets and said they were taken out of context.

What context justifies Rapert’s branding of Islam as the cause of, for example, the 9/11 attack wasn’t made clear.