A New Jersey local councilman has come under fire over comments he posted on Facebook following last week’s deadly shooting in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The comments, which referred to gunman Muhammad Youssef Abdulazees as “Muslim scum,” were widely considered offensive.
“Murdering bastard. Rot in hell Muslim scum,” Ed Gore, a Hamilton councilman, wrote only hours after Abdulazeez’s 30-minute shooting rampage left 5 U.S. service members dead, The Trentonian reported. Responding to his comment, a Facebook user told Gore not to hold back, to which the councilman added: “Oh I never hold back on domestic terrorists.”
President of the Islamic Council of Greater Trenton, Imam Qareeb Bashir, told The Trentonian he was “appalled and really disappointed in the comments made by someone who is an elected official, a representative of the people, that he would use such derogatory labels for groups of people.” He added that he hoped the councilman would issue a public apology.
Abdulazeez’s motive was not immediately known following the shooting, though the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said it would be investigated as an act of “domestic terrorism.”
Gore did apologize Wednesday in an interview with the Trenton newspaper, saying his comments were not meant to be offensive. “I am not some type of anti-Muslim kook,” the councilman said. “I wish I would have clarified it more and am sorry if I offended anybody. I want to let people know it was the emotion of the time.”
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He told the newspaper that, though an Irish Catholic himself, he referred to the Irish Republican Army following a deadly attack in 1979 with equally strong language. “I said they were murdering Irish Catholic bastards,” Gore said.
A fellow Republican councilman, Kevin Meara, said Gore’s comments were a “shame” and “disappointing."
The FBI said Wednesday it was treating the Chattanooga gunman as a "homegrown violent extremist." Authorities said the 24-year-old acted alone, though it was too early to tell whether he had been radicalized.