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Kamala Harris: Attention surrounding Omar puts her at risk

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Harris Harris speaks with Netanyahu amid ICC probe Senate votes to take up COVID-19 relief bill Why is Joe Biden dodging the public and the press? MORE (D-Calif.) defended Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarHouse approves George Floyd Justice in Policing Act House Democrats' ambitious agenda set to run into Senate blockade Omar introduces bill to sanction Saudi crown prince over Khashoggi killing MORE (D-Minn.) on Thursday as the freshman congresswoman endures a storm of controversy surrounding her criticism of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and Israel as well as accusations of anti-Semitism.

Harris, who is running for president in 2020, wrote in a statement obtained by HuffPost that the continued attention directed at Omar, one of the first two Muslim women to serve in Congress, puts her at risk of possible violence.

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"We all have a responsibility to speak out against anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, racism, and all forms of hatred and bigotry," Harris said.

"But like some of my colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus, I am concerned that the spotlight being put on Congresswoman Omar may put her at risk," she added.

Her statement echoed that of the Congressional Black Caucus's chairwoman, Rep. Karen BassKaren Ruth BassHouse approves George Floyd Justice in Policing Act House sets vote for George Floyd police reform bill Lobbying world MORE (D-Calif.), who said Thursday that the attention from the media and from her fellow lawmakers, both Democrats and Republicans, was "inappropriate."

“I think it's inappropriate to just focus on one person. I absolutely do," Bass said.

Harris's fellow 2020 contender Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersABC names new deputy political director, weekend White House correspondent Ron Johnson forces reading of 628-page Senate coronavirus relief bill on floor GOP pulling out all the stops to delay COVID-19 package MORE (I-Vt.) also defended Omar on Wednesday, calling the attention surrounding the freshman congresswoman an attempt to silence legitimate criticism of Israel.

“What I fear is going on in the House now is an effort to target Congresswoman Omar as a way of stifling that debate," he said in a statement. “That's wrong.”

Omar issued an apology earlier this month after tweeting that it was "all about the Benjamins," a reference to a song lyric, after a journalist questioned why she was the subject of criticism from lawmakers who support Israel's relationship with the U.S.

She also came under fire in recent days for a tweet that questioned why she was expected to show loyalty to Israel in order to serve on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.