Top US Muslim group official blames Trump for 'sharp rise' in Islamophobia

The leader of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) on Friday blamed President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy Official testifies that Bolton had 'one-on-one meeting' with Trump over Ukraine aid Louisiana governor wins re-election MORE for a "sharp rise" in Islamophobia after 49 people were killed in an attack on two mosques in New Zealand.

"During your presidency and during your election campaign, Islamophobia took a sharp rise and attacks on innocent Muslims, innocent immigrants and mosques have skyrocketed," CAIR national executive director Nihad Awad said during a press conference.

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"We hold you responsible for this growing anti-Muslim sentiment in the country and in Europe, but also we do not excuse those terrorist attackers against minorities at home and abroad," he added.

Awad also referenced reports that one of the suspected shooters in the New Zealand attack expressed support for Trump as "a symbol of renewed white identity" in a manifesto posted online.

“The perpetrator of this terrorist attack has been inspired by hate-mongers in the United States and in Europe,” Awad said. “The perpetrator of this horrific and terrorist attack today referenced President Trump in his manifesto.”

He called upon Trump to condemn the attack "not only as a hate crime but as a white supremacist terrorist attack."

“Mr. Trump, your words matter. Your policies matter. They impact the lives of innocent people at home and globally,” he said.

The White House said Friday it was "outrageous" to attempt to link the suspected shooter's sentiments to Trump, adding that the president "has repeatedly condemned bigotry and racism and has made it very clear that this is a terrorist attack," according to ABC News.

Trump earlier Friday condemned the attack in New Zealand as a "horrible massacre."

"My warmest sympathy and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the Mosques," he tweeted. "49 innocent people have so senselessly died, with so many more seriously injured. The U.S. stands by New Zealand for anything we can do. God bless all!"

Trump has previously implemented policies that critics slammed as anti-Muslim, such as a travel ban against people from several majority-Muslim countries.

CAIR has also repeatedly spoken out about Trump's rhetoric during the 2016 campaign and since he took office.

It was one of many groups that sued over the travel ban, alleging that it was essentially a ban on Muslim immigrants. It has also condemned many of the president’s remarks and policies, including his recent national emergency declaration and tweet about a “prayer rug” at the U.S.-Mexico border.