Rep. Summer Lee backs out of event with Muslim advocacy group amid backlash

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Rep. Summer Lee (D-Pa.) has canceled an upcoming speaking engagement with a national Muslim group after facing backlash from local leaders over several fellow speakers’ antisemitic sentiments.

Lee, who is facing a challenging bid for reelection in Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District, confirmed Tuesday that she will not appear as expected at an event for the Philadelphia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a prominent Muslim organization. 

“Yesterday, when it was publicly reported, I learned of previous statements made by other speakers at this event I was scheduled to attend this weekend,” she wrote in a post on X, formerly Twitter. “I wanted to join this event with other members of Congress and elected officials to support our Muslim neighbors, in the Commonwealth and across the country, who are desperate to be heard by their own elected officials and feel supported at  a time of rising anti-Muslm hate and violence. I do not condone or endorse any of the other speakers’ previous comments.”

“To prevent the Muslim community from being the target of any more politically-motivated Islamophobia and to ensure my Jewish and LBGTQ+ constituents know their concerns are heard, I will not be attending this event any longer,” she wrote.

One of the newest “squad” members, Lee is also one of the most vulnerable progressives up for reelection in 2024. She has suffered sustained criticism from Democrats over her calls for a cease-fire in Gaza after the Oct. 7 terrorist attack by Hamas killed more than a thousand Israeli civilians. She has taken pro-Palestinian positions during her brief tenure in Congress.

News of Lee’s decision to pull out of the event planned for Saturday was first reported by WESA-FM. Jewish Insider separately reported on scheduled attendees’ prior remarks, including using derogatory and anitsemitic tropes to describe Jewish people.

The Saturday fundraising appearance drew condemnation from her primary rival Bhavini Patel, the councilwoman for the Edgewood Borough, who called the move “appaling” and also reached the state’s Democratic governor, Josh Shapiro. 

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