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Oct 27, 2016 12:17 PM

Islamic rights group: Senate flier in NH exploits Hassan's 'Muslim-sounding name'

The Associated Press

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A Muslim civil rights group says a campaign flier targeting U.S. Senate candidate Maggie Hassan associates Muslims with violence and exploits her "Arab and Muslim-sounding name," though similar mailers are targeting candidates in other states and Hassan's last name has Irish roots.

The flier sent by the advocacy group One Nation shows a family in a weapon's crosshairs and highlights Hassan's support of last year's deal to curtail Iran's nuclear program. It reads: "Radical Islamic terrorists are knocking at our door ... and Maggie Hassan's bad judgment could put our families at risk."

Hassan, a Democrat currently serving as New Hampshire's governor, is in a tight Senate race with Republican incumbent Kelly Ayotte that could help decide control of the U.S. Senate. Her last name is pronounced HAS'-uhn but is sometimes mispronounced as hah-SAHN'.

The Massachusetts chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations has condemned the ad.

"The mailing intentionally invokes the specter of terrorism and associates Muslims with violence against civilians in a clear attempt to sway voters using Islamophobia," director John Robbins said. "This group is obviously exploiting both the candidate's Arab and Muslim-sounding name and the growing Islamophobic sentiment in our nation."

A spokesman for One Nation said similar fliers are targeting Democrats Patrick Murphy in Florida, Katie McGinty in Pennsylvania and Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada.

"This mail piece simply conveys that Maggie Hassan has unwisely and consistently supported policies that make it harder to protect our country from radical Islamic terrorists," said Ian Prior. "It has nothing to do with the vast majority of peace-loving Muslims who are themselves often victims of this evil hijacking of their religion."

Hassan's spokeswoman, Meira Bernstein, called the flier "another reprehensible and baseless attack from Kelly Ayotte's corporate special interest backers."

"Ayotte's allies should be ashamed of themselves," she said.

In a reference to the U.S.-Iran nuclear agreement, Ayotte spokeswoman, Liz Johnson, said Hassan should explain "why she thinks giving the world's worst state sponsor of terrorism billions of dollars is going to make New Hampshire and our country safer."

"While this isn't our mailer, Governor Hassan's support for the dangerous Iran Deal is deeply troubling," Johnson said.

Ayotte, who voted against the deal, has said it will make the U.S. and its allies less safe, and that the U.S. should've taken a stronger position in not allowing Iran to keep its nuclear infrastructure. Hassan has called the deal an imperfect but important step toward preventing Iran from having a nuclear weapon.

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