Ken Isaacs, President Trump’s pick to head the International Organization for Migration (IOM), has come under fire for a series of perceived “anti-Muslim” tweets and has issued an apology.
Isaacs, who currently works as vice president for programs and government relations for Christian nonprofit Samaritan’s Purse and is competing with two other international candidates for the UN post, issued his apology Friday to a group of reporters at a United Nations Correspondents Association event, according to CNN.
“There’s nothing that I can say to change what I said,” Isaacs said. “I’ve apologized for the hurt that I’ve caused. I have hundreds of Muslim friends around the world, and I’ve had them for years. So I do not believe that Islam is a violent religion, and I have no distinction, no discrimination against anybody of any religion or no religion.”
“What I apologized for was that I did not mean to hurt anyone’s feelings. That’s not in my nature to hurt people,” Isaacs continued, adding that his tweets were taken out of context.
“I will have to say that Twitter, 140 characters, is not a very good way to make comments, but it’s also not a good way to capture the context of what was said … Would I tweet again? No, I wouldn’t. But if I’m elected the director general or if I’m not, I believe in the human rights of the individuals. I believe every individual is unique, has a valuable life, and they all deserve equal and fair treatment.”
The tweets, unearthed by CNN’s KFile from what is now a private account, include portrayals of Islam as “not peaceful” and comparisons of the religion to Jim Jones’ mass murder cult. He also reportedly tweeted that Switzerland and Austria should build a wall in the Alps to “control their borders from refugees.”
In March, Isaacs said his tweets and retweets were often “to stimulate conversation. But at the same time have never shown discrimination against anybody, for anything.”
Isaacs will compete with Costa Rica’s Laura Thompson and Portugal’s Antonio Viorino in the June 29 Geneva election, and the State Department has backed their nominee thus far.
“Mr. Isaacs has apologized for the comments he posted on his private social media account. We believe that was proper for him to do so,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in February when the tweets first came to light, according to CNN. “Mr. Isaacs is committed to helping refugees and has a long history of assisting those who are suffering. We believe that if chosen to lead IOM, he would treat people fairly and with the dignity and respect they deserve. I would refer you to Mr. Isaacs for any information on his statements.”