Republican accuses Ilhan Omar of being ‘affiliated’ with ‘terrorist organisations’ in debate over Islamophobia

Scott Perry disciplined for attack against Muslim congresswoman at centre of right-wing abuse

Republican accuses Ilhan Omar of being affiliated with 'terrorist organisations'

As House lawmakers debated legislation to monitor and combat Islamophobia, Republican US Rep Scott Perry baselessly accused Democratic Rep Ilhan Omar – one of two Muslim women in Congress – of being affiliated with “terrorist organisations”.

The legislation authored by US Reps Omar and Jan Schakowsky as the Combating International Islamophobia Act calls for the US Department of State to create an office headed by a special envoy to be appointed by the president.

The office would then record Islamophobic incidents, including attacks and threats against Muslims and places of worship, schools and other centres.

“American taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to pay terrorist organisations – organisations that the maker of the bill is affiliated with,” Rep Perry said.

The House chair ruled that his comments should be taken down and his accusations of antisemitism constitute inappropriate discrimination against a House member.

His remarks follow comments from far-right US Rep Lauren Boebert, who suggested in speeches to her constituents that she was mistaken for a terrorist at the US Capitol.

Rep Perry also claimed that the State Department office will “likely spew antisemitic hatred and attack Western ideas throughout the world under the farce of protecting Islam.”

Rep Omar has repeatedly been at the centre of anti-Muslim right-wing attacks, as progressive Democrats urge House leadership to discipline Rep Boebert, while the entire House Democratic leadership has criticised GOP leader Kevin McCarthy and other top Republicans for their “repeated failure to condemn inflammatory and bigoted rhetoric from members of their conference.”

“Congresswoman Boebert’s repeated, ongoing and targeted Islamophobic comments and actions against another member of Congress, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, are both deeply offensive and concerning,” they said in a statement lats month.

In her remarks supporting the bill on the House floor on 14 December, Rep Omar pointed to a “staggering rise of anti-Muslim violence and discrimination around the world,” from “Uighurs in concentration camps in China and genocide against the Rohingya” in Myanmar.

“Those atrocities are art of a deeper fabric of violence against Muslims and impunity for violence against Muslims at a global level,” she said.

The US is “not immune to this hatred”, she added, pointing to former president Donald Trump’s invocation of a “a deeper culture of Islamophobia” during his administration.

“We must understand that these problems are interlinked,” she said.

The legislation is modelled after legislation to create a special envoy to combat antisemitism, which Ms Omar supported to elevate to a cabinet-level position.

US Rep Rashida Tlaib said the bill is a “strong step towards combatting Islamophobia, but it’s only a start.”

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