Republican presidential candidate and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Wednesday appeared to compare the white gunman who killed nine people last week at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina with Islamic radicals.
In a speech on the Senate floor, Graham thanked his colleagues for their support in the wake of the shooting. He then noted that the gunman reportedly sat with the churchgoers at Emanuel AME for an hour during their Bible study before opening fire. The suspect, 21-year-old Dylann Roof, was arrested last week and charged with nine counts of murder.
“I don’t know how you can sit with somebody for an hour in a church and pray with them and get up and shoot them,” he said. “That’s Mideast hate. That’s something I didn’t think we had here but apparently we do.”
Graham is known for his hawkish foreign policy stance and blunt comments on the Middle East. He made headlines last month when he said at an American Israel Public Affairs Committee dinner that “everything that starts with ‘Al’ in the Middle East is bad news,” referencing the Arabic word for the article “the.” Graham also angered the National Iranian-American Council when he recalled his time working at a bar and said he’d learned there that “the Iranians are liars.”