Trump condemns fatal Oregon stabbings; says victims stood against hate

May 29 (Reuters) - President Donald Trump on Monday condemned the fatal stabbings of two Good Samaritans who tried to stop a man from harassing a pair of women who appeared to be Muslim, in a tweet issued days after an advocacy group urged Trump to condemn the attacks it said his anti-Muslim rhetoric had encouraged.

A third man who also came to the aid of the women suffered serious wounds in the attack on a Portland commuter train on Friday, hours before the start of Ramadan, Islam's holy month. One of the women tearfully thanked the men for their sacrifice.

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Portland, Oregon train stabbing
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Portland, Oregon train stabbing
A convicted felon, Jeremy Christian, 35, accused of fatally stabbings two Good Samaritans who tried to stop Christian from harassing a pair of women who appeared to be Muslim, shouts during an appearance in Multnomah County Circuit Court in Portland, Oregon, U.S., May 30, 2017. REUTERS/Beth Nakamura/Pool TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Micah Fletcher (C), the surviving victim of Friday's MAX train attack, watches as suspect Jeremy Christian (not shown) is arraigned in Multnomah County Circuit Court in Portland, Oregon, U.S., May 30, 2017. REUTERS/Beth Nakamura/Pool
George Tscaggeny, 51, arrested in connection with the theft of a backpack and wedding ring of stabbing victim Ricky Best, is shown in this booking photo provided June 2, 2107. Portland Police Bureau/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
A chalk message is seen at a makeshift memorial for two men who were killed on a commuter train while trying to stop another man from harassing two young women who appeared to be Muslim, in Portland, Oregon, U.S. May 29, 2017. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
A teenager at the center of the Portland stabbing attack thanked the men who died trying to defend her… https://t.co/woK2LKdY1g
Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35, of North Portland, Oregon is pictured in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters May 27, 2017. Portland Police Bureau/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
"They lost their lives because of me & my friend, and the way we looked," witness on Portland train stabbing victim… https://t.co/KP6awo3bG0
Flowers hang on a makeshift memorial for two men who were killed on a commuter train while trying to stop another man from harassing two young women who appeared to be Muslim, in Portland, Oregon, U.S. May 29, 2017. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A flag bearing an abbreviation for "Portland" stands at a makeshift memorial for two men who were killed on a commuter train while trying to stop another man from harassing two young women who appeared to be Muslim, in Portland, Oregon, U.S. May 29, 2017. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
The violent attacks in Portland on Friday are unacceptable. The victims were standing up to hate and intolerance. Our prayers are w/ them.
A convicted felon, Jeremy Christian, 35, accused of fatally stabbings two Good Samaritans who tried to stop Christian from harassing a pair of women who appeared to be Muslim, appears in Multnomah County Circuit Court in Portland, Oregon, U.S., May 30, 2017. REUTERS/Beth Nakamura/Pool
A passerby walks through a makeshift memorial for two men who were killed on a commuter train while trying to stop another man from harassing two young women who appeared to be Muslim, in Portland, Oregon, U.S. May 29, 2017. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
"We stand together here as one": Muslims in Portland thank community after deadly stabbing https://t.co/OVMDv0tvBx https://t.co/Wwi3Isv532
A Muslim woman, who preferred not to giver her name, prays at a makeshift memorial for two men who were killed on a commuter train while trying to stop another man from harassing two young women who appeared to be Muslim, in Portland, Oregon, U.S. May 29, 2017. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
People have raised nearly $1 million for the victims of the Portland stabbing and their families. https://t.co/1Ms8L1l8lj
Portland residents Sedona Soulfire, 41, left, and Kat Ablola, 38, arrange flowers at a makeshift memorial for two men who were killed on a commuter train while trying to stop another man from harassing two young women who appeared to be Muslim, at the Hollywood Transit Station in Portland, Oregon, U.S. May 29, 2017. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
Nearly $1M Raised for Portland Stabbing Victims as One of the Girls Being Harassed Gives Her Thanks https://t.co/CfzK7j1CzJ
A convicted felon, Jeremy Christian, 35, accused of fatally stabbings two Good Samaritans who tried to stop Christian from harassing a pair of women who appeared to be Muslim, shouts during an appearance in Multnomah County Circuit Court in Portland, Oregon, U.S., May 30, 2017. REUTERS/Beth Nakamura/Pool TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Father of four, recent college grad named as victims in deadly Portland stabbing https://t.co/vMTkysvuke https://t.co/oJXFlIsqye
People pay their respects at a makeshift memorial for two men who were killed on a commuter train while trying to stop another man from harassing two young women who appeared to be Muslim, in Portland, Oregon, U.S. May 29, 2017. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
Portland Mayor: Stabbing attack victims "died heroes as a result of a horrific act of racist violence."… https://t.co/p2CSNZIsH4
Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35, of North Portland, Oregon is pictured in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters May 27, 2017. Portland Police Bureau/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. THIS PICTURE WAS PROCESSED BY REUTERS TO ENHANCE QUALITY. AN UNPROCESSED VERSION HAS BEEN PROVIDED SEPARATELY
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"The violent attacks in Portland on Friday are unacceptable. The victims were standing up to hate and intolerance. Our prayers are w/ them," Trump said in a Twitter message before taking part in a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

The tweet appeared only on Trump's @POTUS account, which has about 12 million fewer followers than his better-known @realDonaldTrump account, where the president frequently expresses his personal views.

Trump's message came days after the Council on American-Islamic Relations called on the president to condemn the Oregon rampage and speak out against what the advocacy group sees as a rising tide of anti-Islamic sentiment. Anti-Muslim incidents increased more than 50 percent in the United States last year, it said.

Immediately after the stabbings, CAIR National Executive Nihad Awad said Trump has stirred up bigotry and racism "through his numerous statements, policies and appointments that have negatively impacted minority communities."

The suspect, Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35, remained in custody on Monday and will appear in state court on Tuesday on aggravated murder and other charges.

A convicted felon from Portland, Christian was shouting ethnic and religious slurs to intimidate two women riding on a MAX light-rail train, according to one of the women and other witnesses.

"He told us to go back to Saudi Arabia and that we shouldn't be here and to get out of his country," said Destinee Mangum, who was on the train with a friend wearing a Muslim head scarf.

"He was telling us that basically we weren't worth anything and we should just kill ourselves," she said in a video posted on CNN's website on Monday.

Three men aboard the train intervened, with one of them saying, "You can't disrespect these young ladies like that," Mangum said in the video.

In a tear-choked voice, Mangum said she did not know the men and thanked them for putting their lives on the line.

"They lost their lives because of me and my friend and the way we look," Mangum said.

The FBI is investigating the stabbings to determine whether to charge Christian with terrorism or a federal hate crime, said Portland FBI spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele.

A Go Fund Me account set up for the families of the men killed in the attack raised more than $420,000 by midday Monday and another for the wounded man raised more than $175,000.

(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York; Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu in Washington; Editing by Frank McGurty and Dan Grebler)

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