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Kamala Harris: Attention surrounding Omar puts her at risk

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisBiden announces all-female White House communications team Biden to nominate Neera Tanden, Cecilia Rouse to economic team: WSJ Memo to Biden: Go big — use the moment to not only rebuild but to rebuild differently MORE (D-Calif.) defended Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarMeet the three Democrats who could lead foreign affairs in the House Biden Cabinet picks largely unify Democrats — so far GOP congresswoman-elect wants to form Republican 'Squad' called 'The Force' 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 BassThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump OKs transition; Biden taps Treasury, State experience Five House Democrats who could join Biden Cabinet Pressure grows on California governor to name Harris replacement 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 SandersBiden announces all-female White House communications team The 'diploma divide' in American politics Bernie Sanders should opt for a government-created vaccine from China or Russia 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.