Quantcast
Connect with us

Ilhan Omar, US congresswoman in eye of political storm

Published

on

To her supporters, Ilhan Omar embodies the American dream, but to Donald Trump and his loyalists the refugee-turned-congresswoman has made clear with a string of controversial comments that she is a dangerous radical.

The Somali-born Muslim lawmaker came to the United States as a child and eventually won a seat in Congress.

ADVERTISEMENT

On Thursday the first-term Democratic lawmaker became the focus of a raging debate on race and American values after Trump’s supporters began chanting “Send her back!” at a campaign rally with the president.

One of four ethnic minority Democrats who have been targeted by Trump in recent days, the outspoken Omar hit back hard on Thursday, branding the president both a “racist” and a “fascist.”

For many, Omar’s story is quintessentially American: an immigrant accepted by neighbors with open arms who thrived, settling in Minnesota and making the best of her opportunities to become a trailblazing US political figure.

She is the first Somali-American in national politics, and one of the first two Muslim women ever to serve in Congress, a signal that adherents of Islam are gradually gaining acceptance in American society.

ADVERTISEMENT

AFP/File / Nicholas Kamm dUS President Donald Trump singled out Ilhan Omar for attack at a rally in North Carolina, saying she has “slandered” US servicemembers and “minimized” 9/11

Omar was elected to the House of Representatives last November, and the chamber changed its rules to allow the wearing of a hijab, a head covering worn by some Muslim women, on the House floor.

But others see her as a divisive figure, an agent provocateur whose criticism of government policy in her adopted homeland — be it towards the Middle East or on immigration — has enraged Trump and his loyalists.

ADVERTISEMENT

Her political rise has been steeped in controversy. In February, the 37-year-old sparked an uproar when she suggested money is why so US politicians support Israel.

“It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” she tweeted.

The comment was among multiple unvarnished remarks seen by critics as discriminatory tropes aimed at Jews, and she was rebuked by leaders in both parties.

ADVERTISEMENT

Omar apologized and said she was “listening and learning” from her peers.

But the following month she landed in hot water again, when a video went viral showing her using the phrase “some people did something” to allude to the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Her defenders said Omar was falsely accused of downplaying the attacks.

ADVERTISEMENT

But Trump quickly claimed that Omar supported terrorists, and demanded she resign. Death threats against her soared.

“I took an oath to uphold the constitution. I’m as American as everyone else,” Omar declared in April.

– ‘The squad’ –

ADVERTISEMENT

Omar was born in Mogadishu, and when she was eight her family fled Somalia’s civil war. They spent four years at a refugee camp in Kenya before immigrating to the United States.

She quickly gained an affinity for American politics, serving as her grandfather’s interpreter at caucus meetings as a teenager.

After years of Democratic activism she won a seat in the Minnesota state legislature in 2016.

ADVERTISEMENT

Two years later she was elected to the US Congress, emerging as a powerful young voice demanding progressive change.

Slight in stature, Omar stands out in Congress for her vivacious personality, bold fashion choices, and head scarves.

She has shown herself unafraid of challenging officials with decades more experience than she has, as she did at a hearing where she forcefully confronted Elliott Abrams, Trump’s special representative for Venezuela who was convicted of lying to Congress in 1991.

ADVERTISEMENT

Omar forms part of a rebellious quartet of Democrats known as “The Squad” — all women of color — who have tussled repeatedly with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in Congress, before being targeted in recent days by Trump.

Outspoken and social media savvy, the four have together exposed divisions between the party’s old guard, helmed by Pelosi, and a progressive faction chomping at the bit for greater influence.

But since Trump accused the minority lawmakers of hating America, telling them to “go back” to their countries of origin, the spotlight has landed squarely on Omar.

ADVERTISEMENT

The president singled her out Wednesday at his rally in North Carolina, saying she has “slandered” US servicemembers and “minimized” 9/11.

When Trump called her anti-Semitic, the crowd began to chant: “Send her back! Send her back!”

Omar pushed back on Twitter. “I am where I belong, at the people’s house,” she wrote. “You’re just gonna have to deal!”

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and legal efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. And unlike other news outlets, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from billionaires and corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click to donate by check.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



Report typos and corrections to: [email protected]. Send news tips to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

2020 Election

Democrats could flip the Texas state house in 2020 — and reshape the national map

Published

on

Blue Texas? Democrats have long dreamt of winning Texas’s 38 electoral votes in the presidential election. That may still be a long shot, but a recent “Texodus” from Congress has given new talk to a political transformation across the Lone Star State that could have massive ramifications down the ballot and for decades to come.

This article was originally posted at Salon.

Four of the state’s GOP members of Congress have announced their retirements in recent weeks, an unusual torrent of departures signaling that a storm is coming. And evidence shows that it’s not just hitting Texas’s federal delegation. It’s coming to Austin, too.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

‘There’s an awful lot of really good Republicans out there’: Joe Biden at Cape Cod fundraiser

Published

on

Former Vice President Joe Biden defended Republican lawmakers in DC as "decent people" during a campaign fundraiser held at Cape Cod.

"There’s an awful lot of really good Republicans out there," Biden argued, according to Washington Post reporter Matt Viser.

"I get in trouble for saying that with Democrats, but...every time we ever got in trouble with our administration, remember who got sent up to Capitol Hill to fix it? Me," he said.

”Because they know I respect the other team. I do. They’re decent people," Biden claimed. "They ran because they care about things, but they’re intimidated right now.”

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Neo-Nazi ‘Atomwaffen Division’ holding live-fire militia trainings at ‘The Base’ near Spokane: report

Published

on

One sign of the growing white nationalist crisis in America is a new outreach effort for paramilitary training.

"A neo-Nazi group focused on providing paramilitary-style training to far-right extremists has been conducting a massive recruitment drive and claims to have already conducted live-fire training with its members," Vice News reports.

"The Base, which is connected to extreme-right groups the Atomwaffen Division and the Feuerkrieg Division, has been promoting its growth on social media with photos announcing its presence in major cities across North America, including New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle, and in Europe, South Africa, and Australia," Vice reported. "The images often include a small contingent (typically one to three) of masked, camo-clad men holding weapons standing in front of The Base's flag, a black flag with three white lines running down the centre."

Continue Reading
 
 

Thank you for whitelisting Raw Story!

As a special thank you, from now until August 31st, we're offering you a discounted rate of $5.99/month to subscribe and get ad-free access. We're honored to have you as a reader. Thank you. :) —Elias, Membership Coordinator
LEARN MORE
close-link
close-image