House Democrats are calling on Republican leaders to condemn Islamophobia within their ranks after a series of incendiary comments aimed at Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar, one of the few Muslim lawmakers in Congress.
The appeals to condemn the “vile behavior” came on the heels of a months-long attack on Omar by Colorado Representative Lauren Boebert, whose rhetoric warrants immediate action, the three Muslim representatives in the House said at a press conference Tuesday. A failure to act risks placing the Muslim community in the crosshairs of violence and prejudice, they said.
Flanked by Indiana Representative André Carson and Michigan Representative Rashida Tlaib, Omar at times became emotional as she recounted her experiences as a Muslim woman in public office. When she first ran, Omar said, she was told to “take off [her] hijab if [she] wanted to have the chance of winning” her election. The remarks escalated from there, with former Iowa representative Steve King tweeting, “there might be four pounds of C-4 under [her hijab] that would wipe out half of Congress,” on the day she was sworn in.
“The truth is that Islamophobia pervades our culture, our politics, and even policy decisions,” Omar said. “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. ... We cannot pretend that this hate speech from leading politicians doesn’t have real consequences.”
Omar then played a threatening voicemail, loaded with profanity and xenophobic language, she said she received “hours” after her call with Boebert the day prior, whom she’d expected to apologize “for a history of anti-Muslim hate” after a video of the Colorado Republican circulated on social media of her suggesting Omar was a terrorist at an event in her district last week.
The comments from the three Muslim lawmakers were echoed by members of the Massachusetts delegation.
“Rep. Boebert has made repeated and targeted Islamophobic comments against Rep. Omar — comments that are not just offensive but dangerous,” Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark said in a statement. “This vile behavior has become endemic within the Republican Conference and its leadership has failed to respond with any level of accountability. Their silence sends one very clear message to the American people: complicity.”
Boebert sparked the latest round of condemnation after a video surfaced in which she told an audience that while on a Capitol elevator with Omar, she remarked to a police officer: “Well, she doesn’t have a backpack. We should be fine.” Omar said the story was “made up” and called on both Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Speaker Nancy Pelosi to “take appropriate action.”
After sending a tweet on Friday in which she apologized “to anyone in the Muslim community I offended with my comment about Rep. Omar,” Boebert reached out to Omar privately. But during the conversation, Boebert rebuffed Omar’s request for a public apology and instead demanded an apology from Omar and accused her of “anti-American, anti-Semitic, anti-police rhetoric,” Boebert said in a video she tweeted on Monday.
Representative Ayanna Pressley condemned the “hateful behavior and lack of remorse” demonstrated by Boebert, calling it “unacceptable, morally reprehensible, and outright dangerous for Rep. Omar and for Muslims everywhere.”
New York Representative Jamaal Bowman, who was the only non-Muslim Democrat to attend the press conference, took his calls for action a step further, urging House leadership to remove Boebert from her committee assignments and advance a “resolution of condemnation” following her “vile Islamophobic remarks” directed at Omar.
McCarthy, who is wrangling to become House speaker if Republicans take the majority next year, told the Associated Press that if Democrats tried to censure Boebert, he would “vote against it.” He said she had already “apologized personally and publicly.”
It remains unclear what — if any — action House Democratic leaders will take. The Washington Post reported that a “possible resolution condemning Islamophobia” was discussed Tuesday night, but no decisions were made, and that House Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said punishing Boebert remained a consideration.
Carson said he has been working with House leadership to reach a “possible resolution to address our concerns” and that taking appropriate action “is also about ensuring the safety of the Muslim community.”
“Hateful words against Muslims from elected officials and public figures embolden many to engage in acts of violence that hurt our community. We cannot let this happen,” he said. “We need accountability so that everyone knows that this violent speech is not okay, and hatred will not be tolerated or celebrated.”
Original story HERE