7 Things to Know About Rep. Ilhan Omar
Rachel del Guidice /
President Donald Trump said Tuesday that Rep. Ilhan Omar should resign over anti-Semitic remarks the freshman lawmaker has made.
“I think she should either resign from Congress, or she should certainly resign from the House Foreign Affairs Committee,” Trump said of the Minnesota Democrat during a Cabinet meeting.
Here are six things to know about Omar, who took office just last month.
1. She Faced Accusations of Anti-Semitism Over Tweets
Omar, 37, has faced significant pushback for a tweet she posted Sunday saying that pro-Israel American politicians are supported by funding from a pro-Israel organization, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
Omar also tweeted on Sunday that support for Israel in the United States is “all about the Benjamins baby.”
She apologized after being criticized by both Republicans and Democrats for anti-Semitic behavior.
“Anti-Semitism is real, and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes,” Omar said in a statement posted Monday captioned “Listening and learning, but standing strong.”
“My intention is never to offend my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole. We have to always be willing to step back and think through criticism, just as I expect people to hear me when others attack me for my identity. This is why I unequivocally apologize,” she tweeted.
2. Refugees at the Southern Border Are ‘Detained and Tortured’
At a Feb. 10 rally, Omar—who was born in Somalia, but left that country as an 8-year-old when a civil war began, moving with her family to Kenya and then to the United States—said that refugees coming into the country are “detained and tortured,” with “cages” awaiting them.
“The difference between what is happening to some of those little girls and me is that I didn’t have a cage waiting for me,” Omar said. “I had an open-armed people with moral clarity, awaiting us and saying, ‘You’ve been through a lot. Here’s your new home. You’re our new neighbor. You need water, and you need food.'”
“They are separated and processed,” she added. “They are detained and tortured. And we can’t continue to allow that to happen. At least not under our watch.”
3. Omar Said in 2012 That Israel Had ‘Hypnotized’ the World
In November 2012, Omar tweeted that “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.”
On Feb. 5, Omar still appeared to exhibit a hostility toward Israel, when she “hesitated … before calling Israel a U.S. ally and quickly moved away from a CNN reporter when asked about her support for the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement,” The Washington Free Beacon reported.
4. She Deleted a Tweet Attacking the Covington Students
Omar reportedly deleted a tweet attacking students from Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills, Kentucky, who were also attacked by many in the media for a misinterpreted encounter with a Native American activist near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.
Nick Sandmann and other students of Covington, most of them white boys, faced harsh criticism in mainstream and social media based on a video showing a portion of their encounter with Nathan Phillips, 64, on the National Mall.
Omar reportedly tweeted, “The boys were protesting a woman’s right to choose & yelled ‘it’s not rape if you enjoy it’ … They were taunting 5 Black men before they surrounded Phillips and led racist chants … Sandmann’s family hired a right-wing PR firm to write his non-apology,” but the tweet was removed the next day, Fox News reported.
5. Called Trump’s Promised Border Barrier ‘Racist and Sinful’
“I join the similar calls made by my colleagues today, and I demand that the president end his temper tantrums and quest for a racist and sinful big wall,” Omar said Jan. 16.
“And I demand that he work with us to reopen the government before any more damage is done. Enough is enough. The American people deserve better,” she said during the now-ended partial federal government shutdown.
On Jan. 25, Trump signed stopgap budget legislation funding the government through Feb. 15, ending the 35-day shutdown stemming from Democrats’ refusal to appropriate the $5.7 billion he requested for a barrier along the southern border.
6. Called for Investigation of Weightlifting Organization Over Transgender Athletes
Omar asked Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison to look into USA Powerlifting’s refusal to allow transgender women to compete in women’s events, according to a letter she sent USA Powerlifting on Jan. 31, The Daily Caller reported.
Omar won Ellison’s seat in Congress after he stepped down to run for the job as Minnesota’s top law enforcement official.
In the letter, Omar said it was a “myth” that men who identify as transgender women have a “direct competitive advantage,” and copied Ellison on the letter, “with a recommendation that he investigate this discriminatory behavior.”
7. Called for Light Sentence for ISIS Recruit
Fox9 reported that in late 2016, Omar, who had recently been elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives, pleaded for a light sentence for Abdirahman Yasin Daud, one of “9 Minnesota men charged with planning to join ISIS.”
According to the Justice Department, Daud was arrested in San Diego, where he intended to get a fake passport and go to Syria and join the Islamic State there.
Here’s a portion of Omar’s letter to Judge Michael Davis:
As you undoubtedly deliberate with great caution the sentencing of nine recently convicted Somali-American men, I bring to your attention the ramifications of sentencing young men who made a consequential mistake to decades in federal prison. Incarcerating 20-year-old men for 30 or 40 years is essentially a life sentence. Society will have no expectations of the to be 50 or 60-year-old released prisoners; it will view them with distrust and revulsion. Such punitive measures not only lack efficacy, they inevitably create an environment in which extremism can flourish, aligning with the presupposition of terrorist recruitment: “Americans do not accept you and continue to trivialize your value. Instead of being a nobody, be a martyr.”
The best deterrent to fanaticism is a system of compassion. We must alter our attitude and approach; if we truly want to affect change, we should refocus our efforts on inclusion and rehabilitation.
Daud was ultimately sentenced to 30 years in prison, per the Chicago Tribune.