By Christianna Silva
Representative Ilhan Omar has become the target of even more death threats after a Twitter attack from President Donald Trump.
On Friday, April 12, Trump tweeted a video with graphic images from the 9/11 terrorist attacks spliced together with willfully out-of-context remarks Omar made in March during an event for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights and advocacy group. It was a video that endangers not only Omar's own life, but those of millions of other Americans.
“Violent crimes and other acts of hate by right-wing extremists and white nationalists are on the rise in this country and around the world,” Representative Omar, the only Black Muslim woman currently serving in the House of Representatives, said in a statement posted to Twitter on Sunday, April 14. “We can no longer ignore that they are being encouraged by the occupant of the highest office in the land.”
According to the FBI’s annual report, hate crimes have increased every year since Trump took office. The President also has a history of inciting his followers to violence, as well as a track record of anti-Muslim rhetoric and actions: The week he took office he signed an executive order banning citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days. He has also tweeted a series of anti-Muslim propaganda videos, refuses to stop using the term “radical Islamic terrorism,” and followed Omar's Sunday statement with another attack on her personal character.
In her statement, Omar noted how counties that hosted Trump rallies in 2016 saw a 226 percent increase in hate crimes in comparison to counties that did not host such rallies, pulling from a study reported by the Washington Post in March 2019.
“Violent rhetoric and all forms of hate speech have no place in our society, much less from our country’s Commander in Chief,” Omar said in her statement. “We are all Americans. This is endangering lives. It has to stop.”
This statement is in addition to a thread she tweeted over the weekend saying that “no one person – no matter how corrupt, inept, or vicious – can threaten my unwavering love for America.”
In just one day, Trump’s video received nearly 100,000 retweets and over a quarter of a million likes, according to Rolling Stone. At one point, Trump even pinned the tweet to the top of his page, ensuring it was the first thing anyone would see when they clicked on his account.
“For far too long we have lived with the discomfort of being a second-class citizen and frankly, I’m tired of it and every single Muslim in this country should be tired of it,” Omar said at the March 23 event Trump's clip focuses on. “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 was clearly referring to the attack as “something” done by “some people” as a way to show that there are millions of Muslim Americans who have been persecuted because of the actions of a few. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop Republicans, including Trump, from claiming that Omar’s language was disrespectful to those who lost their lives during the terrorist attack.
While some Democrats have condemned the attacks against Omar — including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Sens. Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren, and Reps. Ayanna Pressley and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — many people are worried that some statements came too little too late, and vary in their solidarity with Omar. However, on Sunday, Pelosi called for Trump to remove the video and has called for additional security measures to protect Omar, her family and her staff, NBC News reported. And more than 150 progressive leaders and groups signed a solidarity letter in support of Omar, according to POLITICO.
“The attacks aimed at Rep. Omar are beyond the pale,” the letter obtained by POLITICO reads. “Far from legitimate disagreements and critiques, there are intentional efforts to spread misinformation and incite fear and hate in the hearts of people in this country. These are blatant attempts to divide and distract us, while Trump and the GOP undermine our democracy and enrich themselves and their friends.”
But it doesn’t look like Omar is planning to let death threats scare her away from doing her job as an elected member of Congress.
“Thank you for standing with me – against an administration that ran on banning Muslims from this country – to fight for the America we all deserve,” she tweeted to followers on Saturday.