PHOENIX — Whether it’s about the environment, the economy or the American Constitution, Deedra Abboud can’t post anything on Facebook that doesn’t garner hateful comments about her religion.
Abboud, a Democrat who is challenging Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake for his seat next year, is Muslim. Comments range from suggestions she go back to her country — Abboud is a white woman from Arkansas — to claims that she is a radical and oppressed.
Her opponent is not standing for that.
Flake, a Republican, tweeted support Tuesday.
He wrote: “Hang in there @deedra2018. Sorry you have to put up with this. Lots of wonderful people across AZ. You’ll find them.”
Abboud said in an interview Tuesday that she was grateful for the senator’s response.
“I was proud to be an Arizonan and an American at that point, because we haven’t seen our elected leaders stand up against hate in a long time. So I was very proud that he did that and I very much appreciate that. And I want to see more of that from our elected leaders,” Abboud said.
Abboud is a self-described feminist who is campaigning on a wide platform that includes making changes to the Affordable Care Act that would lower health insurance premium costs. She also is an advocate for online privacy, education, military veterans and immigration reform, among other issues.
“I don’t believe that religion should be a factor. I believe character, platform, what we stand for— I believe that should be a factor,” Abboud said. “I actually don’t believe the fact that I’m a female should be a factor, yet we’ve seen continuously in political races that being a female is a factor.”
Abboud says she is no stranger to online attacks. A former Christian who converted to Islam in 1998, Abboud said she’s been dealing with misinformation and negative comments for a long time.
She at one point served as the director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Arizona and has been an activist for several years. Abboud is an attorney by trade.
“I’m running because I believe we can change the conversations in Arizona. And I believe that we’ve just shown that we can. We just got a U.S. senator to discount, to say that he’s against, hateful rhetoric. And we haven’t seen that since last year,” Abboud said.