Some Twitter users are flocking to support Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi in a war of words with Conservative candidate Jason Kenney.
Nenshi decried the Conservatives' position that women should be banned from wearing niqabs during citizenship ceremonies, calling the politics surrounding the debate "disgusting" and "unbelievably dangerous stuff" in a Sirius XM radio interview with Evan Solomon on Wednesday.
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Kenney shot back in an interview with Postmedia on Thursday, saying, "it seems to me that it's the mayor and people like him who are politicizing it."
The mayor responded on Twitter by questioning Kenney's turn of phrase.
Nenshi's tweet has received more than 1,000 retweets since Thursday.
Many pledged support for the Calgary mayor, using the hashtag #PeopleLikeNenshi, coined by the Edmonton Journal's Paula Simons. The tag quickly shot up the trending lists, with more than 3,500 appearances in the last 12 hours.
#peoplelikeNenshi make me proud to be Canadian— @IanCordingley
I believe that forcing a woman out of a Niqab is just the same as forcing one into one, agree or not it is a choice. #peoplelikenenshi— @GlynnP75
I wish we have more #PeopleLikeNenshi in politics everywhere in this country. Great leaders, thoughtful, funny, and committed to people.— @EdwardBDodd
Several NDP and Liberal politicians, including Justin Trudeau, also tweeted support.
Others defended Kenney and said his comments were being misread.
If you think Kenney was taking a race or religion based shot at Nenshi, you're completely oblivious to his Ministeral career. #cdnpoli— @BRinYWG
Once again Nenshi acts morally superior and discounts anyone's opinion but his own. The purple clown show continues. http://t.co/HFmGdRQJfR— @bcm010
Once again at the centre of a Twitter trend, Nenshi took time to make some light-hearted comments.
That must be what he meant. https://t.co/cVBvsCwMMi— @nenshi
He even offered what could be seen as an olive branch to Kenney.
@nenshi handsome single men?— @PatsyBing
On Friday, Kenney denied that his comment had anything to do with Nenshi's religion or ethnicity.
"He's a friend of mine. He knows how close I am to all of the cultural, ethnic and religious communities in Canada, particularly his own Ismaili community," Kenney said during an interview on Solomon's radio program Everything is Political.
He said it was "completely ridiculous" to suggest that his comments were about religion or ethnicity. "I think I referred to politically correct liberals who were politicizing this issue."