CAIR slams Pelosi for accusing US Gaza ceasefire protesters of Russian links

CAIR slams Pelosi for accusing US Gaza ceasefire protesters of Russian links
Nancy Pelosi's comments that pro-Palestine protesters have Russian ties drew criticism from the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
3 min read
29 January, 2024
Pelosi urged the FBI to investigate some pro-Palestine protesters [Getty]

A leading US Muslim group has slammed former House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday after she suggested, without offering any evidence, that some pro-Palestine protesters were linked to Russia urging the FBI to investigate.

Her comments were dismissed as "unsubstantiated smears" by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which said such remarks amounted to the dehumanisation of the Palestinian people.

Pelosi made the remarks in a CNN interview after she was asked whether opposition to President Joe Biden's policy in the war in Gaza could hurt the Democrats in November's presidential election.

"For them to call for a ceasefire is Mr. Putin's message, Mr. Putin's message. Make no mistake, this is directly connected to what he (Russian President Vladimir Putin) would like to see," Pelosi told CNN.

Live Story

"I think some of these protesters are spontaneous, and organic, and sincere. Some I think are connected to Russia," she said. "Some financing should be investigated and I want to ask the FBI to investigate that."

Pelosi's comments marked the first time a prominent US lawmaker has accused Russia's leader of backing US protesters calling for a ceasefire.

The US has seen mass protests calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, including some near airports and bridges in New York City and Los Angeles, vigils outside the White House and marches in Washington.

Demonstrators have also interrupted Biden speeches and events.

The protests have been organised by a range of human rights, Jewish, and anti-war activist groups.

"It is unconscionable that an individual with such influence in this nation would spread unsubstantiated smears targeting those who seek an end to the slaughter of civilians in Gaza and a just resolution to that conflict," said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesperson for CAIR.

Pelosi's comments "echo a time in our nation when opponents of the Vietnam War were accused of being communist sympathisers and subjected to FBI harassment", CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad added.

When asked about the protests against Biden's policy in Gaza, Democratic US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told NBC News on Sunday that for many, opposition to the war was based on "the indiscriminate loss of life" in the region.

Israel's ongoing onslaught on the besieged Gaza Strip has killed at least 26,600 people - mostly women and children - and injured over 65,000 people.

Live Story

The UN has called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, but Washington has vetoed resolutions urging truces at the United Nations Security Council, alleging it would allow Hamas to regroup and rebuild.

Israel's bombardment has flattened much of the densely populated enclave, leaving most Gazans displaced and homeless, and sparking food shortages that threaten famine and incapacitating most hospitals.