This Republican Senator Was Quick To Defend His Opponent After She Was Criticized Because Of Her Faith

"Sorry you have to put up with this."

Jeff Flake is a well-liked, widely-respected member of the Republican Party who has served as the junior senator from Arizona alongside 2008 presidential nominee John McCain since 2013. Back in April, attorney Deedra Abboud announced her plans to enter the 2018 race and challenge Flake for his Senate seat, but she has a steep uphill battle ahead of her.

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The news is dominated by talk of politicians from opposite sides of the aisle who can't seem to work together or get along, but one Republican senator from Arizona is happy to show everyone how it's done.

Not only does Abboud, a Democrat, hope to flip a seat that a member of her party hasn't occupied since 1988, she's also a proud and practicing Muslim who has been relentlessly attacked for her faith on social media. Abboud's Facebook page is teeming with hate speech, including many telling her she is "not wanted while likening Islam to "cancer."

According to a recent article in The Arizona Republic, Abboud requires police escorts at events because of the intensity of the hate and threats directed at her. Her campaign spokeswoman, Jaclyn Freedman, told the publication that a recent meet and greet at a local cafe even saw an appearance by some members of the alt-right.

Upon hearing of the Islamophobic attacks directed at Abboud, Flake — her opponent — offered sincere words of encouragement. On July 18, he reached out via Twitter and told her to "hang in there." He also offered an apology for all of the vitriol she's had to endure.

Flake's compassionate response to his political rival has seen him praised by members of both parties. On Twitter, he's being lauded by ordinary citizens for showing "more class than many people in [the Republican] party" and for "standing up against hatred, and fellow politician Chris Murphy — a Democratic senator from Connecticut — attested to Flake's integrity. 

Hours after his very public defense of her, Abboud thanked Flake on social media for his kind-hearted gesture. She told BuzzFeed News the tweet made her happy, and stressed the importance of politicians speaking out when they are made aware of abusive comments so their "supporters know that that's where they stand."

"People who can, should put themselves out there," Abboud added. "Because as long as people are scared, those bullies are going to continue to be empowered. We have to hold them accountable. We have to say no, that's not who we are."

Flake's move has likely resonated with so many because it demonstrated a degree of compassion and care that has been sorely lacking in politics in recent months. Furthermore, Flake's unwillingness to tolerate Islamophobia isn't just for show — it's evident in his politics as well. 

Back in January, amidst talk of the initial travel ban targeting predominantly Muslim countries, Flake told CNN, "Enhancing long-term national security requires that we have a clear-eyed view of radical Islamic terrorism without ascribing radical Islamic terrorist views to all Muslims."

And though the hateful rhetoric aimed at Abboud will almost certainly continue despite Flake's best efforts, she's showing no signs of backing down. "This is not how all people feel. It's not a reflection of me," she explained to the Phoenix New Times. "These people just hate Muslims — it's not personal, so why take it so?"

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