"Statements like these cause mistrust and fear of Islam and Muslims,'' said Haroon Manjlai, with the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Greater Los Angeles, or CAIR-LA. "It is unbecoming of a public elected official to issue such bigoted statements.''
On Tuesday, Melendez posted a tweet saying "Gut wrenching news today. American Kayla Mueller murdered by Islamic savages. There MUST be consequences. MM.'' She ended the Twitter post with the hashtag #standupagainstIslam.
Mueller, of Prescott, Ariz., was captured by the terror group Islamic State while working on behalf of a Middle East-based relief organization in Syria.
The 26-year-old Mueller apparently was killed last week in a Jordanian air strike against an IS stronghold.
Manjlai criticized Melendez for seeming to associate all Muslims with terrorism.
"Hate rhetoric can and does lead to hate crimes against people,'' the CAIR-LA spokesman said. "We call on Assembly member Melendez to retract and apologize for her anti-Muslim comment and for smearing the faith of more than 1.6 billion people.''
The lawmaker released a statement Thursday insisting she never had any "intention to offend peaceful Muslims.''
"However, I've had enough of Islamic extremists and terrorists who oppress women and burn people alive in the modern world,'' Melendez said.
"This isn't about hash tags; it's about America standing up with our allies and putting an end to the barbaric behavior we are witnessing around the
Melendez is a U.S. Navy veteran in her second term as a member of the state Assembly.
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