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Georgia candidate's post removed for inciting violence

Supporters stand with construction executive Marjorie Taylor Greene, right, as she's on the phone, late Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020, in Rome, Ga. Greene, criticized for promoting racist videos and adamantly supporting the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory, won the GOP nomination for northwest Georgia's 14th Congressional District. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)
Supporters stand with construction executive Marjorie Taylor Greene, right, as she's on the phone, late Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020, in Rome, Ga. Greene, criticized for promoting racist videos and adamantly supporting the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory, won the GOP nomination for northwest Georgia's 14th Congressional District. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

ATLANTA – Facebook removed a photo illustration showing a Republican congressional candidate in Georgia posing with a rifle next to three Democratic House members, saying Friday that it violated the social media platform's policy against inciting violence.

The illustration, a montage of four photos, was posted Thursday by Marjorie Taylor Greene, a candidate who has previously courted controversy with her support of a baseless conspiracy theory involving President Donald Trump and her inflammatory remarks about two Muslim congresswomen.

Greene is favored to win election in a deeply conservative district northwest of Atlanta. She faces Democrat Kevin Van Ausdal in the general election.

Greene's post featured four separate photos that had been combined to show her posing with a rifle next to Democratic U.S. Reps. Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar. The three left-wing congresswomen, known as part of "the Squad," are often targeted by Republicans. Omar and Tlaib are two of only three Muslim members of Congress. Ocasio-Cortez is Hispanic.

“Hate America leftists want to take this country down,” Greene wrote, later adding, “We need strong conservative Christians to go on the offense against these socialists who want to rip our country apart.”

Facebook said the post violated its policy against calling for violence. Omar said the post was generating death threats.

“Posting a photo with an assault rifle next to the faces of three women of color is not advertising,” she said in a statement. “It’s incitement.”

Tlaib wrote on Twitter that, “It’s dangerous in a time of rising political violence openly encouraged by this fascist president that a soon-to-be member of Congress thinks a post threatening women’s lives is acceptable.”

Greene has embraced controversy. After her Aug. 11 runoff victory, she inveighed against “spineless Republicans" and promised to kick Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi out of Congress. But she denied in a statement Friday that she was trying to incite violence.

“No, those who say that are paranoid and ridiculous,” Greene said. “Fake news is always looking for the next conspiracy theory. This question is idiotic.” She went on to say that Democratic opponents “are trying to cancel me out even before I've taken the oath of office” because “I scare them so much.”

Pelosi called on House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to “immediately condemn this dangerous threat of violence.” McCarthy, who was traveling Friday, told The Associated Press he hadn’t yet seen the post. But he said the GOP has no place for the QAnon views.

In 2019, Greene filmed videos at the U.S. Capitol where she said she was trying to get Omar and Tlaib to re-swear their oaths of office on the Bible instead of the Quran. She accused them of being illegitimate and alleged that the two support Sharia, or Islamic law.

In other videos, Greene embraced QAnon, a far-right conspiracy theory centered on the baseless belief that Trump is waging a secret campaign against enemies in the “deep state” and a child sex trafficking ring run by satanic pedophiles and cannibals. In other videos posted since 2017, she said Black and Hispanic men are being held back by “gangs and dealing drugs,” alleged an “Islamic invasion” of government offices and accused Jewish billionaire George Soros of collaborating with Nazis.

Those videos brought her criticism in the primary, with some Georgia Republicans pulling their support, but opposition eased after her runoff win over neurosurgeon John Cowan. The day after the runoff, Trump congratulated her in a tweet, saying “Marjorie is strong on everything and never gives up — a real WINNER!”

Greene was in attendance last week when Trump accepted the Republican presidential nomination at the White House. She is a construction company executive who moved from a suburban Atlanta district to the 14th District to run for Congress after the incumbent announced his retirement.

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Associated Press Writer Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report from Washington, D.C.

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