Nancy Pelosi
Nancy PelosiReuters

Reuters reports that a Muslim group in the US criticized former House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday because she suggested that some protesters demanding a ceasefire in Gaza could be linked to Russia, even though she had no evidence. Pelosi urged the FBI to investigate.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) dismissed her comments as "unsubstantiated smears" and said they amounted to dehumanization of the Palestinian people.

Pelosi made these comments after she was asked in a CNN interview whether opposition to President Joe Biden's policy in the war in Gaza could harm the Democrats in November's presidential election.

Pelosi claimed that "this is directly connected to what he (Russian President Vladimir Putin) would like to see. Some of these protesters are spontaneous, and organic, and sincere.” “Some I think are connected to Russia," she added, claiming that their “financing should be investigated,” and asking the FBI to investigate that."

This was the first time a prominent U.S. lawmaker has accused Russia's leader of backing U.S. protesters calling for a ceasefire.

Protests demanding a ceasefire in Gaza, organized by a range of human rights, Jewish and anti-war activist groups, have recently occurred in many places across the U.S. demonstrators have even interrupted Biden speeches and events.

"It is unconscionable that an individual with such influence in this nation would spread unsubstantiated smears targeting those who seek an end to the slaughter of civilians in Gaza and a just resolution to that conflict," said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesperson for CAIR.

Pelosi's comments "echo a time in our nation when opponents of the Vietnam War were accused of being communist sympathizers and subjected to FBI harassment," CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad added.

When asked about the protests against Biden's policy in Gaza, Democratic U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told NBC News on Sunday that opposition by many to the war was based on "the indiscriminate loss of life" in the region.

The U.N. has demanded an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, but Washington has vetoed resolutions for such calls in the United Nations Security Council, saying it would let Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, which governs Gaza, regroup and rebuild.