The Republican Party in Kansas is facing criticism from Muslims over mailers distributed in the state ahead of the legislative race, depicting what appears to be an Islamic State group (also called ISIS) fighter in the state.
"Have you met the new neighbors?" the fliers read, along with an image of a man dressed as a jihadist, and add: "ISIS is not going away anytime soon."
The other side of the mailer talks about Republican Rep. Joseph Scapa’s support for training Kansas law enforcement officers to “recognize and deal with foreign and domestic threats to our state, from those who support ideologies that are in conflict with the U.S. Constitution and our Kansas values,” according to the Wichita Eagle, a local newspaper.
The GOP received severe criticism for the fliers depicting ISIS, which has carried out several attacks in the U.S. and also occupies large parts of Iraq and Syria.
Robert McCraw, director of government affairs for the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington, D.C., called the mailers “a shameful example of scare mongering tactics that I hope the Republican Party can learn to move away from.”
Moussa Elbayoumy, the chairman of the Kansas chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, criticized the fliers, telling ABC News the mailers intended to "sow the seeds of fear in order to exploit that fear."
Elbayoumy also reportedly said the Muslim population in Kansas City was 25,000, while 10,000 to 15,000 were living in Wichita and another 4,000 or 5,000 in Topeka.
"Most non-Muslims are very tolerant here," he said, adding there were "scattered cases of discrimination" against Muslims in the area.
Clay Barker, executive director of the Kansas Republican Party, said voters in the state were very aware and would not interpret the “new neighbors” message on the mailer as suggesting that Muslims living in Kansas posed a terror threat.
Heather Scanlon, spokeswoman for the Kansas Democratic Party, reportedly said the Republican Party “has absolutely no leg to stand on regarding public safety.”
“The Brownback administration and legislature have opened the door to guns on our college campuses, openly opposed keeping terrorists from buying guns, and underfunded public safety so severely that several counties didn’t have a single highway patrol person last year,” she said. “They are merely using political fear to cover up the fact that they are weak on the issues that are actually affecting Kansans.”