AOC defends Ilhan Omar over 9/11 comments and points out most domestic terrorism carried out by far-right white men

Congresswoman criticises ‘horrifying, hateful’ newspaper headline

Zamira Rahim
Friday 12 April 2019 18:33 BST
President Trump attacks Ilhan Omar

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the popular US congresswoman, has defended her colleague Ilhan Omar after a conservative US tabloid accused the Muslim politician of trivialising the 9/11 terror attack.

Ms Omar made a speech at a Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) event in Los Angeles on 23 March, in which she discussed the rise of Islamophobia in the US.

A brief line from her speech, “some people did something”, was used on the front page of The New York Post on 11 April. The quote had been placed over an image of the 2001 attack on the World Trade Centre.

Democrats were outraged – they said the quote had been taken out of context and the cover was a bad-faith attack on Ms Omar.

“I’m not going to quote the NY Post’s horrifying, hateful cover,” Ms Ocasio-Cortez said on Twitter.

She continued: “Here’s 1 fact: [Ilhan Omar] is a cosponsor of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. She’s done more for 9/11 families than the GOP who won’t even support healthcare for 1st responders- yet are happy to weaponize her faith.”

The New York representative also criticised Republican Dan Crenshaw for attacking Ms Omar and not supporting the victim fund. It is set to close in December 2020 if congress does not reauthorise it.

“You refuse to cosponsor the 9/11 Victim’s Compensation Fund, yet have the audacity to drum resentment towards Ilhan w/completely out-of-context quotes,” Ms Ocasio-Cortez said.

“In 2018, right-wing extremists were behind almost ALL US domestic terrorist killings. Why don’t you go do something about that?”

A report from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), published in January 2019, found that every terrorist murder in the US in 2018 was linked to right-wing extremism.

Ms Omar is one of the first two Muslim women to sit in congress and has frequently been targeted by right-wing US politicians and public figures.

At the CAIR event, the Minnesota representative criticised Donald Trump’s attacks on Islam and Muslims.

She said: “Many of us knew this would get worse, we finally have a leader, a world leader, in the White House who publicly says ‘Islam hates us’, who fuels hate against Muslims, who thinks it is okay to speak about a faith and a whole community in a way that is dehumanising, vilifying and doesn’t understand – or at least makes us want to think he doesn’t understand – the consequences his words might have.”

Later in her speech, Ms Omar discussed the founding of CAIR, a Muslim civil rights activism group, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. At this point she used the phrase “some people did something”.

“CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognised that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties,” she said.

“So you can’t just say that today someone is looking at me strange and that I am trying to make myself look pleasant.

“You have to say that this person is looking at me strange, I am not comfortable with it, and I am going to talk to them and ask them why. Because that is the right you have.”

According to The Los Angeles Daily News, hundreds of protesters outside the CAIR event were shouting anti-Islam slogans such as “Burn the Quran” and “Ilhan Omar go to hell”.

Other Democrats, including Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley have also expressed support for Ms Omar.

“The NY Post knows exactly what it’s doing – taking quotes out of context and evoking painful imagery to spread hate and endangering the life of Rep Omar. Shame on them, and shame on Rupert Murdoch,” Ms Tlaib said, referring to the owner of the US tabloid.

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The controversy comes just days after a man was charged for threatening to kill Ms Omar, after placing a call to her office in which he called her a “terrorist”.

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