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DeSantis Ripped After Calling Clothes Worn By Iraqi Men 'Man Dresses' During Debate

The GOP presidential candidate put his ignorance on full display during Wednesday night's Republican debate by saying that Al Qaeda wore 'man dresses' when he served in Iraq.

Ron DeSantis
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Florida Republican Governor and 2024 presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis put his ignorance on full display during Wednesday night's Republican debate by saying that Al Qaeda wore "man dresses" when he served in Iraq.

When asked about his previous remark that he would encourage troops to use deadly force against anyone smuggling drugs over the U.S.-Mexico border, DeSantis brought up his Iraq War service.

He said:

“When I was in Iraq, the Al Qaeda wasn’t wearing a uniform. You’d see anyone walking down the street, they all had man dresses on. You didn’t know if they had a bomb, an IED, attached or not."

DeSantis' remarks can be heard at 1:46 in the video below.

DeSantis was referring to thobes, which are widely seen in Arab countries, particularly the United Arab Emirates.

Thobes are a symbol of cultural identity. While worn daily, they can also be worn during formal occasions and religious events. They are lightweight and made of breathable fabric. Their flowing design aids in air circulation to help people stay cool in the heat while also staying modest.

His remarks were swiftly called out by critics who said his remarks were both racist and ignorant.

NBC News earlier reported that DeSantis had used the term "man dresses" to describe thobes on the campaign trail before.

While stumping in Iowa over the summer, DeSantis brought up his military service and talked about Marines' being deployed in Ramadi "not knowing the next person coming down the street wearing a man dress had a bomb attached to it or not."

DeSantis was also criticized for a remark he made downplaying what he called "so-called Islamophobia" during last month's GOP debate.

At the time, DeSantis accused President Joe Biden of not doing enough to protect Jewish students from antisemitism following Hamas' attack on Israel in October and instead "launching an initiative to combat so-called Islamophobia."

The White House shut that claim down, pointing to the Biden administration's rollout of a U.S. national strategy to fight antisemitism, months before Biden launched a similar effort to fight Islamophobia.