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US Congress punishes lawmaker over violent clip

The US House of Representatives has voted to punish a Republican lawmaker who tweeted a cartoon depicting him attacking Democrats with swords.

The Democratic-controlled Congress voted 223-207 to censure Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar and remove him from his committee roles.

It came after he posted then deleted an anime video that Democrats say promoted violence against President Joe Biden and lawmaker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

He has called it a “symbolic cartoon”.

It comes just 10 months after supporters of Republican President Donald Trump stormed Congress in an attempt to block the certification of Mr Biden’s election victory.

The vote largely fell along party lines, with only two Republicans voting to censure Mr Gosar.

Ahead of the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that “this is about workplace harassment and violence against women.”

“Yet, the member has never apologised for his actions. ‘It’s a cartoon, relax,’ he said. Really?,” Pelosi said.

Mr Gosar, for his part, said he rejects “the false narrative” that he espouses violence and said the video depicts “a policy battle”.

Earlier this year Democrats stripped another Republican lawmaker, Marjorie Taylor Greene, of committee assignments for past remarks that included support for violence against Democrats.

Conservatives accused them of hypocrisy for taking no punitive action against a Democratic lawmaker, Ilhan Omar, who made remarks that were construed as anti-Semitic.

The House resolution, which was posted online on Tuesday, calls for Mr Gosar to be removed from the Committee on Oversight and the Natural Resources Committee.

The 90-second video posted on 8 November featured an edited version of a Japanese anime cartoon interspersed with scenes from the US-Mexico border.

In one portion, characters whose faces were replaced by Mr Gosar and other prominent conservative Republicans were shown fighting other characters.

One character, who had been made to look like New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, was seen being hit in the neck with a sword. A character altered to look like Mr Biden was also seen being attacked.

In response, top Democrat Nancy Pelosi tweeted that “threats of violence against Members of Congress and the President of the United States must not be tolerated”.

Mr Gosar has denied the video was inciting violence.

In a statement, he said “the cartoon depicts the symbolic nature of a battle between lawful and unlawful policies and in no way intended to be a targeted attack against Representative Cortez or Mr Biden.

“It is a symbolic cartoon. It is not real life.”

Twitter added a warning label to the tweet, after determining it had violated the company’s rules on “hateful conduct”.

While attending the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, Ms Ocasio-Cortez called Mr Gosar “creepy” and described his tweet as a “fantasy video of him killing me”.

Mr Gosar has previously drawn scrutiny for spreading false information about the 2020 presidential election and appearing at a rally where a far-right activist spoke in favour of white nationalism.

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