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OC Congressman Defends Painting Of Hijab-Clad Lady Liberty

SANTA ANA ( — A small but highly symbolic painting hanging on the wall of an Orange County Congressman's office is being criticized by some activists as unpatriotic.

The Claremont-based activist group We The People says a student art project in Democratic Rep. Lou Correa's Santa Ana office depicting the Statue of Liberty wearing an Islamic-style hijab violates the separation of church and state.

Correa posted a photo of the painting on his Instagram account with the following caption: "There are some who #hate this painting and want me to take it down. I see a young woman who is trying very hard to show people that she is an #American. "If I took down her #art, I'd be telling the world her experiences don't matter and she did something wrong. This is her country too, and she earned that spot on my wall."

In a video showing the activist group confronting Correa's staff at his office, one of the constituents argues that any women wearing a hijab signifies "she is a devout Muslim".

He then points to a collection of photos of veterans on another wall of Correa's office and says the Lady Liberty is "insulting" the memories of fallen U.S. servicemen and servicewomen.

A Correa staffer is heard explaining the painting was made by a fourth-place finalist in an art contest sponsored by Correa.

"Sir, just because you find it offensive, there may be other residents who would not find it offensive," the staffer tells the group.

Correa - a first-term congressman - told the Orange County Register some activists affiliated with We The People Rising attended a May 30 town hall on immigration, where three people were arrested after the event was stopped due to disruptions.

The House Office of General Counsel advised Correa that "there was no legal issue with having the painting" at his office, The Register reported.

A spokesman for Correa told CBS2 the office has received threats in response to the painting and has been instructed by U.S. Capitol Police not to further comment.

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