Ilhan Omar garnered remarkable support in the state election for Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District in 2016. She was later applauded by the public when joining U.S. House of Representatives in 2018, leaving her in the history books for monumental firsts. Most notably, she became one of the first two Muslim-American women elected to Congress. She represented diversity in the political community, which made a push for her appeal. But among this support, Omar has persistently faced Islamophobia since her campaign and the progression of her political career has only worsened it.
Islamophobia has terrorized the Muslim community for years, projecting to new heights following the 9/11 attacks. The media has pushed an agenda, a perception that has lumped all Muslims into a category of individuals that commit and suffer through violence on the basis of religion.
In light of this Islamophobic attitude, President Donald Trump has come under fire for his glaring Islamophobia with a video targeting Rep. Omar.
WE WILL NEVER FORGET! pic.twitter.com/VxrGFRFeJM
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 12, 2019
This initial outrage, more specifically in conservative media, was based upon this statement Omar made, that appeared to ‘trivialize’ the terrorist attacks. In the above clip, Omar can be seen stating repeatedly, “some people did something” while gesturing away from herself in an out-of-context sound bite.
Trump’s post can only be seen as an effort to incite violence against Omar, including her community, by demonizing her and those that look like her. I don’t think it’s Omar’s comments that are minimizing the significance of 9/11 through a flippant remark, rather Trump using the attack as a political tool to target a political opponent. The problem has less to do with her statement, the issue is that it’s being distorted in the media, such as in Trump’s clip, to further an agenda embedded in racism.
Aside from condemnation from both Republicans and Democrats, she has generated public support from her fellow democratic peers including the popular names of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and 2020 presidential hopefuls such as Bernie Sanders, Beto O’Rourke and Julián Castro.
But this targeting of Omar in the media should be of no surprise, she is indeed a marked woman, a target following her controversial ‘anti-Semitic’ statements. She attributed the reasons for being pro-Israel in the U.S. Congress was ”all about the Benjamins,” which suggests that the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC was buying off American politicians. I doubt her intentions were malicious, but through this suggestion, it entails a sense of dual loyalty, which is inherently based on anti-Semitic ideas.
“I don’t ever want you to worry about me. I am fine. I know what my mission is. I know what my purpose is. I know that as long as I breathe that I will continue to make people uncomfortable in the best way possible” @IlhanMN is strong but we will NOT be silent #StandWithIlhan pic.twitter.com/x2oXdN4w5N
— Rasha (@RashaMK) March 5, 2019
Trump’s platform is far too large to recklessly target people who don’t carry his same views. From this point forward, the harassment she has faced will only progress and his pressing of the situation declares no help for her cause.
“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 to an audience gathered in Los Angeles.
The attacks on @IlhanMN and subsequent lack of support from Democratic leadership continues to prove that this system was never meant for us.
Do not applaud diversity and the “first” Muslims in any space if you’re not willing to be a true ally and defend us.#IStandwithIlhan
— Maheen Ahmed (@MsMaheenAhmed) April 13, 2019
Far too long have Muslims have had to deal with the harassment against their religion based on the acts of extremists. The attack on Omar is disheartening and unfortunately, her demographic only worsens the punishment. Being a bold Black, Muslim-American Woman in a system not meant for them only leads to a subsequent takedown in the media as soon as something can be used against you. People of color are seen as disposable in this system and all we can do is support and build for one another.
In honour of that, I, too, stand with Ilhan Omar.
Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call