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Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar said that President Donald Trump’s recent tweet — featuring video of her speaking interspersed with footage from 9/11 — has caused an increase in death threats against her.
Omar, one of two Muslim women ever elected to Congress, tweeted Sunday night that violent crimes by right-wing extremists and white nationalists were on the rise, both in the U.S. and around the world — and being encouraged by Trump.
“Since the president’s tweet Friday evening, I have experienced an increase in direct threats on my life — many directly referencing or replying to the President’s video,” Omar wrote.
“We are all Americans,” the freshman congresswoman added. “This is endangering lives. It has to stop.”
Trump tweeted a video Friday night that juxtaposed 9/11 imagery, sad piano music, and a single sentence Omar said last month at an event hosted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Los Angeles.
"CAIR was founded after 9/11, because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties," Omar said at the event. Soon after, the right latched onto the phrase “something people did something” as an attempt to downplay the terrorist attacks that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001. CAIR was also founded in 1994, not after 9/11.
Numerous prominent Democrats and progressives — including Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — promptly came to Omar’s defense, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi weathered some criticism because she waited overnight to condemn Trump’s video and also for failing to mention Omar by name.
“The memory of 9/11 is sacred ground, and any discussion of it must be done with reverence. The president shouldn’t use the painful images of 9/11 for a political attack,” Pelosi tweeted Saturday morning.
Pelosi didn’t directly defend Omar until Sunday, when the House speaker also said she'd spoken with the Capitol Police sergeant-at-arms to ensure that Omar, her family, and her staff were safe. Earlier this month, the FBI arrested a man who allegedly called Omar’s office and threatened to shoot her in the head.
“The president’s words weigh a ton, and his hateful & inflammatory rhetoric creates real danger,” Pelosi tweeted. “President Trump must take down his disrespectful and dangerous video.”
Meanwhile, Trump responded to Pelosi’s denouncement and the news that he increased death threats against Omar by tweeting Monday morning that Pelosi had lost all control of Congress and that Omar was the real leader of Democrats.
“She is out control, except for her control of Nancy!” Trump tweeted.
Apart from Trump, numerous conservatives went after Omar after video of her comments about 9/11 surfaced last week, including:
- A Fox News host accused Omar of not being an American first.
- The New York Post — owned by Rupert Murdoch, like Fox News — published a front page that included Omar’s quote and 9/11 imagery.
- Rep. Dan Crenshaw, a Texas Republican, called Omar’s comment “unbelievable.”
- The president’s son Donald Trump Jr. chimed in with a string of tweets attacking Omar, and he even retweeted a racist, Islamophobic conspiracy theory that linked the congresswoman to terrorism.
But a considerable amount of grassroots support has also manifested for Omar. A coalition of more than 1,000 Yemeni bodega owners in New York City, for example, have organized a boycott of the New York Post in response to their front page attacking the congresswoman.
Omar has become one of the most well known — and controversial — new members of the Democratic Party, largely over over her criticism of Israel and its relationship to the U.S. Both Republicans and some Democrats have painted her comments as anti-Semitic, but her supporters and defenders say the the attacks are simply meant to silence Congress’ most vocal critic of Israel.
Cover image: Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., listens as Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Russell Vought testifies before the House Budget Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 12, 2019, during a hearing on the fiscal year 2020 budget. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)