Rep. Ilhan Omar on Wednesday offered her perspective on the threats and threatening political rhetoric targeting her and her family due to her position as one of the first Muslim women in Congress.
After a reporter tweeted an image of Omar speaking at an event in Minnesota with a bodyguard standing behind her, the congresswoman tweeted that recent xenophobic language and threats, coming from anonymous senders as well as from the White House and the halls of Congress, have forced her “to accept the reality of having security.”
I hate that we live in a world where you have to be protected from fellow humans. I hated it as a child living through war and I hate it now.
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) August 28, 2019
In her tweet, Omar shared one recent example of an anonymous death threat she received in which the sender wrote that she would be killed during Congress’s August recess.
“You will not be going back to Washington, your life will end before your ‘vacation’ ends,” wrote the sender. “Quite likely it will be at the Minnesota State Fair.”
Democratic leadership began reviewing Omar’s security needs in April after President Donald Trump tweeted a video showing images of the 9/11 attacks intercut with Omar’s comments about the treatment of Muslims in the U.S. after the attacks.
Since then, Trump and other high-level Republicans have drawn outrage as they’ve continued to stoke Islamophobic and anti-immigrant sentiment against Omar.
Trump said in July that Omar and three other progressive women of color in Congress should “go back” to the countries they and their families had come from. Of the four congresswomen, only Omar was actually born outside the United States—emigrating from Somalia as a refugee when she was a child.
On social media, supporters of Omar decried Republicans’ tacit encouragement of the threats against her and applauded her for speaking out about the danger the president and others in the GOP have helped to place her in.
Congresswoman @IlhanMN should not have to deal with the kind of hate, anger, bigotry, and just vile evil coming her way. Regardless of ideology or partisanship, threats against members of Congress are disgusting and terrifying for us all. https://t.co/bQeHgX4wPx
— Brian Harrison, Ph.D. (@brianfharrison) August 29, 2019
So much courage wrapped in a such a small package…https://t.co/0yI9deduyd
— Jeffrey St. Clair (@JSCCounterPunch) August 29, 2019
The Jewish-led group If Not Now, which condemns the Israeli occupation of Palestine, also called on government officials to denounce anti-Muslim and racist comments against Omar by public figures with the same vigor they do anti-Semitic comments.
The double standard — as Muslims AND Jews are under threat from white nationalists — is sickening. https://t.co/YS33GdqqCW
— IfNotNow🔥 (@IfNotNowOrg) August 28, 2019
Omar was condemned by leaders of her own party and eventually the subject of an anti-hate speech resolution passed by the U.S. House after she remarked about the indisputable financial ties the pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC has with U.S. lawmakers.
As Mehdi Hasan wrote at The Intercept on Wednesday, no such response has been evident from either party or the media since Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) said in a radio interview that Omar is partially responsible for a growing lack of “respect” for the Jewish faith.
“I think it’s based on the growing influence of the Islamic religion in the Democratic Party ranks,” Brooks told Huntsville, Alabama station WVNN last week. “Keep in mind: Muslims more so than most people have great animosity toward Israel and the Jewish faith.”
“Wow,” wrote Hasan. “I have been reporting on Islamophobia in U.S. politics for more than a decade, and I honestly cannot remember coming across a more brazenly Islamophobic statement from an elected member of Congress. ‘Growing influence of the Islamic religion’ among Democrats? …In an age of rising white nationalism, in which Muslims have been gunned down in mosques by domestic terrorists who believe such conspiracy theories about Islam, these remarks aren’t just offensive, they’re downright dangerous.”
And yet Brooks’ remarks received “virtually no coverage” in the mainstream press, Hasan wrote.
“The net result? Omar is hung out to dry while Brooks gets a pass,” he added. “Omar is now a household name, and the subject of multiple death threats, while Brooks gets to carry on making offensive and conspiratorial claims about Islam, Muslims, and the Democratic Party without any sanction or censure.”