WASHINGTON-(MaraviPost)-President Donald Trump has disavowed the “send her back” chants directed at Democratic congresswoman Ilhan Omar by his supporters at a campaign rally.
Ms Omar is a US citizen who emigrated from Somalia with her family after fleeing the country’s civil war.
The chants, which came after Mr Trump criticised Ms Omar and three other congresswomen, were widely condemned, including by some Republicans.
“I was not happy with it. I disagree with it,” Mr Trump said of the chant.
He did not elaborate on with what he disagreed.
“It was quite a chant and I felt a little bit badly about it,” Mr Trump told reporters on Thursday. “I started speaking very quickly but it started up rather fast, as you probably noticed.”
The controversial chants took place at Mr Trump’s campaign rally in North Carolina.
Mr Trump was cheered on by the crowd of thousands as he again accused Ms Omar and her fellow congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashia Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley – known as “the squad” – of hating America.
Ahead of the rally, a bid to impeach Mr Trump was blocked in Congress.
Critics say it echoed the “lock her up” phrase adopted by his supporters against Hillary Clinton in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.
According to BBC, the chant comes as tensions escalate between the president and the four Democratic congresswomen over recent tweets, in which Mr Trump told the then four politicians to “go back” to their countries.
What’s the reaction?
Ms Omar told reporters on Thursday: “Every single person who is in this country, who’s aspiring to become part of the American fabric understands that nothing this president says should be taken to heart.”
“As he’s spewing his fascist ideology on stage, telling US citizens to go back because they don’t agree with his detrimental policies for our country, we tell people that here in the US dissent is patriotic, here in the US disagreement is welcome.”
On Wednesday, Ms Omar tweeted lines from Maya Angelou’s poem Still I Rise and later shared a photo of herself in the House of Representatives saying, “I am where I belong”.
On Twitter, #IStandWithIlhan began trending as Democrats expressed their support for Ms Omar and criticised the president for prompting the chants with his rhetoric.
Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Bernie Sanders tweeted: “Trump is stoking the most despicable and disturbing currents in our society” while Senator Kamala Harris, another Democratic 2020 contender, described the actions as “vile”.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer drew comparisons to dictatorships.
Some conservatives have also censured the use of the phrase.
Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee Tom Emmer – who, like Ms Omar, represents Minnesota in Congress – told reporters he did not agree with the language.