Following the June 3 terrorist attack carried out in London, a Louisiana lawmaker took to social media to call on the U.S. to target and kill any suspected Islamic radical. The congressman defended his remarks as a rebuttal to political correctness, while several Christian critics have condemned the rhetoric as hateful.
On June 3, three assailants drove a van into pedestrians on London Bridge before attacking civilians with knives in Borough Market, London. Before the attackers were killed by Metropolitan Police, seven civilians were killed and another 48 injured, CBS News reports.
On June 4, Republican Rep. Clay Higgins of Louisiana took to social media to call for any person suspected of holding extremist beliefs to be killed.
"Not a single radicalized Islamic suspect should be granted any measure of quarter," Higgins wrote on his Facebook page. "Their intended entry to the American homeland should be summarily denied. Every conceivable measure should be engaged to hunt them down. Hunt them, identify them, and kill them. Kill them all. For the sake of all that is good and righteous. Kill them all."
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Higgins is a former Louisiana sheriff's spokesman. In March 2016, he resigned from that position after facing criticism for using racially loaded language to describe gang members. He then ran for and won the state's third congressional district in December 2016.
"I've never been accused of being politically correct," Higgins told CNN. "I call things the way I see them."
National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations blasted Higgins' comments as a dangerous exploitation of a terrorist attack.
"Unfortunately, we see this each time after one of these tragic incidents," Hooper told The Washington Post. "When there's no push back against Islamophobic rhetoric, people see that as tacit endorsement of anti-Islamic rhetoric."
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Higgins' spokesman, Andrew David, acknowledged that the Louisiana lawmaker's social media post drew controversy from his constituents.
"We've gotten mixed feedback from folks back home," David said. "Some positive, some negative."
Rev. Dr. Katharine R. Henderson of Auburn Seminary condemned Higgins' comments as antithetical to Christian values.
"What we need from our leaders -- political, religious and otherwise -- is maturity and forbearance, not hateful rhetoric that stokes fear, hatred, and violence," Henderson told The Huffington Post.
On Jan. 29, Higgins voiced support for President Donald Trump's executive order on travel, asserting in Congress that prohibiting U.S. admittance of citizens from several Muslim-majority countries was necessary for American safety.
"President Trump’s order is not a betrayal of American values," Higgins said, according to KATC. "His actions inspire hope to the millions of Americans who have watched our nation decline over the past decade, watched helplessly as radical Islamic horror has gripped the world and... unbelievably... been allowed into our own nation with wanton disregard."