In a statement, Jamal Abdi, president of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), said the comments were “racist,” “absolutely disgusting,” and disqualifying for a sitting U.S. senator to  make. 

“This is not the first time that Graham has made bigoted remarks about Iranians,” Abdi continued. “In 2015, he said ‘I know Iranians are liars’ based on his experience in his dad’s pool hall. If you dread the notion of Iranian ancestry and believe all Iranians are liars, you are hopelessly bigoted and unfit to serve in the U.S. Senate where votes affect tens of millions of Iranians and millions more of Iranian ancestry in the diaspora.”

Abdi called on Graham to immediately apologize for the remark. “The Iranian-American community will not forget such casual racism, ” he said, “nor will it forget which party has enacted policy on the basis of such racism by banning our family members from Iran.”

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