US president Donald Trump has doubled down on his inflammatory comments about four young congresswomen, arguing that they should "apologise" to the United States and to the president himself.
A day after he told the Democratic members of Congress to "go back" to their countries, Mr Trump accused the four women – all of whom are non-white – of spewing "racist hatred".
"When will the Radical Left Congresswomen apologize to our Country, the people of Israel and even to the Office of the President, for the foul language they have used, and the terrible things they have said. So many people are angry at them & their horrible & disgusting actions!," he wrote on Twitter on Monday.
Mr Trump was referring to four recently-elected members of Congress – New York representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.
Only one of the four, Ms Omar, was born outside America. The Muslim congresswoman moved to the United States when she was 12 with her family from a refugee camp in Somalia and was elected to Congress for the first time at last November's mid-term elections.
Ms Omar in particular has become the target of vehement criticism from the right in recent days, specifically over her comments about Israel. The 37-year-old was admonished by House of Representatives speakder Nancy Pelosi earlier this year after she said that Israel's influence in US politics was "all about the Benjamins", a slang-word for US dollars, that many saw as anti-Semitic.
The current controversy began on Sunday when Mr Trump unleashed a series of provocative tweets, calling on the four US congresswomen to “go back” to the “totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” adding: “you can’t leave fast enough”.
His comments came as immigration officers began a sweep of undocumented immigrants living in cities across the United States, as part of the latest crackdown on immigration by the Trump administration.
Democrats reacted with outrage to Mr Trump’s comments, accusing him of racism. Ms Pelosi, who the president defended last week as he weighed-in to reports of inter-party conflict between Ms Pelosi and the four congresswomen, said the president’s comments were xenophobic.
“Make America Great Again” has always been about making America white again,” she tweeted. “Our diversity is our strength and our unity is our power.”
The condemnation rippled across the Atlantic – on Monday a spokesman for British prime minister Theresa May joined the chorus of criticism of Mr Trump over his attack on the four congresswomen. "Her view is that the language which was used to refer to the women was completely unacceptable," the spokesman said.
Republicans, however, were largely silent on the issue.
Those targeted by Mr Trump’s tweets also responded.”Mr President, the country I ‘come from,’ & the country we all swear to, is the United States,” Ms Ocasio-Cortez said on Twitter; she was born to Puerto Rican parents in New York. “You are angry because you can’t conceive of an America that includes us. You rely on a frightened America for your plunder.”
MsTlaib was even more direct. “Want a response to a lawless and complete failure of a president? He is the crisis. His dangerous ideology is the crisis. He needs to be impeached,” she wrote on Twitter.