State Sen. Richard Stuart (R-Stafford) launched Facebook ads this week attacking Democratic challenger Qasim Rashid’s faith and patriotism, potentially stirring up hate against an opponent that has already received death threats over his American-Muslim identity.
“Qasim Rashid doesn’t believe Islamic terrorism exists,” Stuart said in one of the Facebook ads. In another, he called Rashid a “radical.”
“He wants to talk about my faith. He wants to talk about Islam,” said Rashid, who lives in Stafford, in an interview with the Richmond-Times Dispatch. “I want to talk about the issues. Every allegation he’s made is a complete lie.”
In a statement, Rashid, who is running against Stuart in Senate District 28, said he’s accustomed to enduring “hatred and threats from extremists, racists, and terrorists.” Last year a North Carolina man — who was later indicted with felony charges — threatened to lynch Rashid over his faith.
However, Rashid said he is “deeply disturbed,” to receive such attacks from a sitting state Senator.
Ironically, Rashid has penned three books on Middle Eastern culture that he said condemn terrorism. And his second book, “Talk To Me,” encourages meaningful conversation between people of all faiths to facilitate mutual respect and promote a more peaceful society.
“My conservative friends: I know you don’t tolerate this hate. I know b/c I’ve knocked on your doors & you’ve invited me into your homes, businesses, & churches,” Rashim tweeted today.
His other responses on social media and through his press room are likewise absent from personal attacks against Stuart. Instead, he’s kept the focus on policy differences between the two candidates.
Stuart, for his part, has a record of spreading false information about race and history. In 2018, he honored Robert E. Lee on the Senate floor and portrayed the Confederate general as anti-slavery. That is incorrect, according to historians. Lee owned slaves for 30 years and in the last year of the Civil War he wrote that “the best that can exist between white and black races” is the master and slave relationship.
The 28th Senate District leans Republican and includes parts of King George, Prince William, Spotsylvania, Stafford and Westmoreland counties. Stuart has held the seat since 2008. Rashid is a first-time candidate.