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Act against anti-Muslim hatred, Ilhan Omar tells Republicans as she airs latest death threat

31st Dec 2021
Act against anti-Muslim hatred, Ilhan Omar tells Republicans as she airs latest death threat

(Photo credit:Tony Webster/Flickr)

Elham Asaad Buaras

Congresswoman Ilhan Abdullahi Omar, 39, played a chilling death threat left on her voicemail as she called on Republican (GOP) leadership to end anti-Muslim hatred in their ranks.

Omar, one of only three Muslims in Congress, has been the target of constant attacks by conservative commentators and several Republican members of Congress, which she says led to an increase in death threats.

Recently, a video of the first-term Colorado representative Lauren Boebert calling Omar a member of the “jihad squad” and likening her to a bomb-carrying terrorist went viral.

“When a sitting member of Congress calls a colleague a member of the ‘jihad squad’ and falsifies a story to suggest I will blow up the Capitol, it is not just an attack on me but on millions of American Muslims across the country,” Omar said during a news conference on November 30. “We cannot pretend this hate speech from leading politicians doesn’t have real consequences.”

Omar, who is the first Somali American and the first naturalised citizen of African birth in Congress, then played the racial slurs-laced voicemail, in which a man threatens to “take you off the face of this f***ing Earth”, which she said was among hundreds of such messages she has reported since joining Congress. Omar said the voicemail was left for her after Boebert released another video on December 1 criticising her.

The caller is also heard saying: “You will not be living much longer, b**ch,” and that “we the people are rising up”. He calls Omar a “traitor” and says she will stand trial before a military tribunal.
She also criticised far-right Republican Congresswoman of Georgia, Marjorie Taylor Green, for saying she and Tlaib should retake their oath of office on a Christian Bible.

”Meanwhile, Marjorie Taylor Greene, now a Member of Congress, came to my office in 2019 and harassed my staff, demanding that my colleague Rashida Tlaib and I retake our oaths of office on a Christian Bible. Just today [November 30], she called me “pro-Al-Qaeda” “Blood thirsty” and an “apologist for Islamic terrorists.”

We cannot pretend that this hate speech from leading politicians doesn’t have real world consequences. The truth is that anti-Muslim hate is on the rise both here at home and around the world. This summer, we witnessed a deadly anti-Muslim attack wipe out three generations of a Muslim family in Canada.

In 2019, a white supremacist opened fire at multiple mosques in New Zealand, killing over 50 people. The first half of this year alone saw over 500 incidents of anti-Muslim hate here in the US.
“I myself have reported hundreds of threats on my life, often triggered by Republican attacks on my faith. “

Omar said, “It is time for the Republican Party to actually do something to confront anti-Muslim hatred in its ranks and hold those who perpetrate it accountable.”

A video posted to Facebook showed Boebert speaking at an event and describing an interaction with Omar – an interaction that Omar maintains never happened. In the video, Boebert claims a police officer approached her with a “fret on his face” shortly before she stepped into a elevator and the doors closed. “I look to my left and there she is, Ilhan Omar.

And I said: ‘Well, she doesn’t have a backpack. We should be fine,’” Boebert says with a laugh. CNN also published a video from September where Boebert also suggested Omar was a terrorist and called her and Michigan rep Rashida Tlaib evil.

“Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. These are just black-hearted evil women,” Boebert said. Omar called on the House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and the Republican minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, to “take appropriate action”. But so far McCarthy, who is in line to become Speaker if Republicans retake the majority next year, has been reluctant to police members of his caucus whose views often closely align with those of the party’s base.

Boebert apologised “to anyone in the Muslim community I offended”. But after declining to apologise directly to Omar during a tense phone call on December 1, which Omar abruptly ended, Boebert again went on the attack.

“Rejecting an apology and hanging up on someone is part of cancel culture 101 and a pillar of the Democrat party,” Boebert said in an Instagram video.

In her statement, Omar said Boebert refused to apologise to her during the phone call. “Instead of apologizing for her Islamophobic comments and fabricated lies, Rep. Boebert refused to publicly acknowledge her hurtful and dangerous comments,” she said. “She instead doubled down on her rhetoric and I decided to end the unproductive call.”

Two US civil rights bodies, Muslim Advocates and Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, filed a joint formal complaint with the House Ethics Committee on November 30 over Boebert’s Islamophobic comments.

The groups write, ‘As organisations representing diverse groups of American Muslims and Jews across the country, we are writing you with an urgent request to open an investigation. […] Rep. Boebert’s violent and exclusionary remarks and behaviour, especially coming in the aftermath of the events on January 6, 2021, and the physical violence displayed in the halls of the Capitol, not only fail to ‘reflect creditably’ upon the House (Rule 1) but also threaten the well-being of Rep. Omar, her colleagues, her staff, and minority communities across this nation.’

The organisations’ also call for accountability Boebert, ‘When elected officials attack religious minorities, they can lay the groundwork for real violence against those communities. Her repeated invocation of the false, offensive stereotype of Muslims as anti-American and terrorist sympathizers gives her many followers a green light to direct hate and threats towards Reps. Tlaib, Carson and Omar—as well as all American Muslims.’

Omar’s friend and fellow Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, slammed House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on November 2 for running a ‘Ku Klux Klan’ caucus and failing to take action against Islamophobia in its ranks.

‘People truly don’t understand the scale, intensity, & volume of threats targeting @IlhanMN,’ tweeted Ocasio-Cortez, a fellow member of the so-called ‘Squad’ of progressive Democrats.

‘Kevin McCarthy is so desperate to be Speaker that he is working with his Ku Klux Klan caucus to look aside & allow violent targeting of [women of colour] members of Congress.

This cannot be ignored. While people toss out clichés like “we condemn all forms of racism & bigotry,” the fact is Islamophobia is far too often tolerated and ignored. ‘Bigotry is not made unacceptable by what one says about it, it’s made acceptable based on whether there are consequences for it or not.’

Ocasio-Cortez said Republicans had been given ‘freedom to incite’ without fear of consequences, particularly when the victims were from minority communities. McCarthy is taking her side. When asked what he would do if Democrats tried to censure Boebert, McCarthy said: “After she apologised personally and publicly? I’d vote against it.”

Trump weighed in with an attack on Omar, reheating a conspiracy theory that Omar married her brother to help him gain American citizenship. ‘Omar should apologise for marrying her brother, committing large-scale immigration and election fraud, wishing death to Israel, and for essentially abandoning her former country, which doesn’t even have a government – exactly what she’d like to see for the United States,’ he said.

Omar, denied the rumour about marrying her brother as ‘false and ridiculous’ when it surfaced during a 2016 run for office.

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Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

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