Revere city councilor accused of anti-Islamic social media posts

Revere city councilor accused of anti-Islamic social media posts

REVERE, Mass. — Muslim rights and advocacy groups in Massachusetts have accused a Revere city councilor of anti-Islamic social media posts.

Revere city councilor George Rotondo Jr. insisted late Tuesday his online posts "are not what they are being called" and said the allegations were "totally politically motivated."

But Jetpac, a political action committee that supports Muslim candidates for public office, and the local chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations called for an investigation of the posts. The two groups want to know if Rotondo is using city resources to promote what they say is an Islamophobic and anti-immigrant agenda.

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Jetpac and the Islamic council say Rotondo has posted links several times to "propaganda" by discredited anti-Muslim groups such as Jihad Watch and a YouTube video that describes Portland, Maine, as "overrun" by migrants from Africa.

"We've seen throughout history that hateful rhetoric inspires violence," Jetpac's executive director, Mohammed Missouri, said in a statement. "Councilor Rotondo has the right to say what he wants on his own time, but Revere residents also have a right to know if he's using any public resources as a city councilor to promote hatred of Muslims."

John Robbins, executive director of the council's Massachusetts chapter - the state's largest Muslim advocacy organization - said the posts "demonstrate a disturbing pattern of animosity against Muslims."

"Muslims of Revere, who include children, police officers, teachers, doctors, and their families, deserve more from their elected officials," he said.

In March, the organization said it received 232 requests in 2018 for legal assistance for civil rights cases related to harassment, hate crimes, travel abuses and discrimination.

Mayor Brian Arrigo issued a statement Wednesday:

"Revere has an engaged and flourishing Muslim community that contributes culturally and positively to our City's growth and diversity. Any type of speech or conduct that maliciously ridicules or demeans any person or group of people is not only hateful but also harmful to our city's strong values and historic connection to people from all over the world who come here to call America home.
Councilor Rotondo's social media comments are of his own volition and not sanctioned or in any way supported by the City of Revere.   As an elected official he is responsible and accountable for his own conduct, and to the voters of our city."

Rotondo sent Boston 25 News the following statement:

"I invite the public to view my reposting of articles from Newsweek, Washington Post, the Guardian, BBC, Gatestone institute and JPOST to be my judge.
Over the last 15 years I've worked tirelessly to make Revere a better place for everyone, regardless of their race, religion or political beliefs.
Through my work I serve and care for people from across the globe. In doing so I have made great efforts to learn 6 different languages of varying Proficiencies to connect, aide and care for all people.
These accusations by Mr. Missouri of Jet Pac are politically motivated. It is a result of his friendship with my political opponent's campaign worker, contributor and supporter.
I'm deeply saddened by the recent attacks on my character for the purpose of scoring political points, however I will continue to fight for the better Revere that we all deserve. I want to thank those who have personally reached out with words of encouragement and support throughout this process."