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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 June 2018

US Congress votes to call on Trump to denounce hate groups

The joint resolution, passed with the support of both Republicans and Democrats, will go to Trump for his signature.

A vigil in response to the death of a counter-demonstrator at the 'Unite the Right' rally in Charlottesville, outside the White House in Washington, DC, U.S. on August 13, 2017. Congress now wants President Donald Trump to condemn the far-right. Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
A vigil in response to the death of a counter-demonstrator at the 'Unite the Right' rally in Charlottesville, outside the White House in Washington, DC, U.S. on August 13, 2017. Congress now wants President Donald Trump to condemn the far-right. Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

The US congress has passed a resolution calling on President Donald Trump to condemn hate groups after he was criticised for his response to the violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last month.

The congressional resolution calls on Trump to condemn hate groups and what it describes as the growing prevalence of extremists who support anti-Semitism, xenophobia and white supremacy.It also urges Attorney General Jeff Sessions to investigate acts of violence and intimidation by white nationalists, neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan and similar groups.

The US House of Representatives unanimously adopted the resolution late on Tuesday. The Senate — the upper chamber of US government — had already approved the measure on Monday.

"Tonight, the House of Representatives spoke in one unified voice to unequivocally condemn the shameful and hate-filled acts of violence carried out by the KKK (Ku Klux Klan), white nationalists, white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville," Democrat Representative Gerry Connolly said.

The joint resolution, passed with the support of both Republicans and Democrats, will go to President Trump for his signature. The White House has so far made no comment.

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Mr Trump alienated fellow Republicans, corporate leaders and US allies and rattled the markets last month with comments about the violence in Charlottesville, where white nationalists and neo-Nazis clashed with anti-racism activists on August 12. One woman, Heather Heyer, was killed and several people were wounded when a suspected white nationalist crashed his car into anti-racist demonstrators.

The congressional resolution calls Heyer's death a "domestic terrorist attack." James Alex Fields, 20, from Ohio, is accused of driving into Heyer and other protesters and has been charged with second-degree murder and other criminal offences.

On the day of Heyer's death, President Trump denounced hatred and violence "on many sides," a comment that drew appalled reactions from across the political spectrum as it did not condemn white nationalists specifically.

Rioting broke out after white nationalists gathered in Charlottesville to protest against the planned removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, who led the army of the pro-slavery Confederacy during the American Civil War. Mr Trump defended Confederate monuments last month. At a rally in Phoenix on August 22, he accused television networks of ignoring his calls for unity in the aftermath of the violence in Charlottesville.

"I didn't say I love you because you're black, or I love you because you're white," President Trump said at the rally. "I love all the people of our country."

The resolution also acknowledged the deaths of two Virginia State Police officers whose helicopter crashed as they patrolled the Charlottesville protest.

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