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Boebert refuses to apologise for comment on Muslims

The Republican representative had previously apologised 'to anyone in the Muslim community I offended' but not directly to Democrat and Islamist Ilhan Omar

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Boebert not sorry for comments on Muslims

Days after firebrand conservative Representative from Colorado Lauren Boebert was harshly criticised for making anti-Muslim comments about Representative Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, whom she likened to a bomb-carrying terrorist, the two spoke by phone. By both US lawmakers’ accounts, it did not go well.

The conversation, which Boebert sought after issuing a tepid statement last week, offered an opportunity to extend an olive branch in a house riven by tension. Instead, it ended abruptly after Boebert rejected Omar’s request for a public apology, amplifying partisan strife.

Boebert had previously apologised “to anyone in the Muslim community I offended,” but not directly to Omar.

The woke society of the US is seeing it as “just the latest example of a GOP lawmaker making a personal attack against another member of Congress” — news agency AP’s phraseology — which they find “an unsettling trend that has gone largely unchecked by House Republican leaders”. It also offers a test of Democrats’ newfound resolve to mete out punishment to Republicans.

Is Boebert to blame for Ilhan Omar’s long association with controversies?

Earlier this year, Ilhan Omar compared the US and Israel to murderous terrorist groups Hamas and the Taliban and said the two democracies have committed “unthinkable atrocities”.

“We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the US, Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban,” wrote Omar. “I asked [Secretary of State Antony Blinken] where people are supposed to go for justice.”

The tweet caught fire online and saw multiple members of her own party speak out against Omar’s rhetoric in a statement on Wednesday.

“Equating the United States and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban is as offensive as it is misguided,” the group of Democrats, said of Omar. The signers of the statement included Reps. Brad Schneider, D Illinois.; Brad Sherman, D California; Josh Gottheimer, D New Jersey; Jake Auchincloss, D Massachusetts; and Ted Deutch, D-Florida.

“Ignoring the differences between democracies governed by the rule of law and contemptible organizations that engage in terrorism at best discredits one’s intended argument and at worst reflects deep-seated prejudice,” the group added. “The United States and Israel are imperfect and, like all democracies, at times deserving of critique, but false equivalencies give cover to terrorist groups. We urge Congresswoman Omar to clarify her words placing the US and Israel in the same category as Hamas and the Taliban.”

Omar’s fellow “Squad”-mate Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D Michigan, who has her own of controversy, defended Omar’s tweet — which Omar claimed the coverage of “directly” incited death threats against her — by accusing the Democrats that wrote the release of “purposefully” distorting the Minnesota Democrat’s words.

“Once again disappointed in my colleagues quicker to condemn [Omar] than they are to condemn the abuses of the apartheid state of Israel,” Tlaib tweeted. “This statement purposefully distorts her words, stokes anti-Muslim hate toward my sister in service, and is unacceptable.”

Omar is a staunch, open critic of Israel and her controversial statements only became more enflamed during the recent conflict between Israeli forces and Palestinian Authority-backed terror group Hamas.

Thousands of rockets flew indiscriminately into Tel Aviv and Jerusalem from Hamas in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as the Israeli forces retaliated with their own, targeted airstrikes. The fighting came after clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians in Jerusalem over potential evictions by the Israeli government.

Amid the conflict, Omar also accused Israel of engaging in “terrorism” through their airstrikes that tragically killed civilians in the Gaza Strip.

“Israeli air strikes killing civilians in Gaza is an act of terrorism. Palestinians deserve protection. Unlike Israel, missile defense programs, such as Iron Dome, don’t exist to protect Palestinian civilians. It’s unconscionable to not condemn these attacks on the week of Eid,” Omar wrote on Twitter.

In 2019, during her first term in office, Omar came under fire for a since-deleted tweet from 2012, where she wrote “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.”

Omar said the “unfortunate words were the only words” she could “think about expressing at that moment” while referring to the Israeli armed forces’ 2012 operation against Hamas in Gaza. She also defended the comments while speaking to comedian Trevor Noah on “The Daily Show.”

Omar, who previously has expressed regret over that tweet, responded by saying she had to “take a deep breath” and “understand where people were coming from and what point they were trying to make.”

“What is important in this conversation is that we separate the land, the people, and administrations. When I talk about what we are going wrong in this country, it’s not because I hate this country, it’s not because don’t see myself as American,” Omar said. “It’s because I love this country and because I am an American and I want it to do better.

“And so when I talk about places like Saudi Arabia or, you know, Israel, or right now Venezuela, I’m not criticizing the people, I’m not criticizing their faith, I’m not criticizing their way of life. What I am criticizing is what’s happening at the moment and I want for there to be accountability so that the government … can do better,” she continued.

The congresswoman also stirred up intense backlash from both sides of the aisle when she tweeted that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) was paying American politicians to support Israel.

Now

Earlier this month, conservative Rep Paul Gosar of Arizona was censured over a video. In February Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia was booted from congressional committees for her inflammatory rhetoric.

After Monday’s phone call, Omar and Boebert quickly issued statements condemning each other.

“I believe in engaging with those we disagree with respectfully, but not when that disagreement is rooted in outright bigotry and hate,” Omar said in a statement. She said she “decided to end the unproductive call.”

Boebert shot back in an Instagram video: “Rejecting an apology and hanging up on someone is part of cancel culture 101 and a pillar of the Democrat Party.”

The chain of events was set in motion over a week ago when a video posted to Facebook showed Boebert speaking before constituents, describing an interaction with Omar — an interaction that Omar maintains never happened.

In the video, the freshman Colorado lawmaker claims that a Capitol Police officer approached her with a “fret on his face” shortly before she stepped aboard a House elevator and the doors closed.

“I look to my left and there she is — Ilhan Omar. And I said, ‘Well, she doesn’t have a backpack. We should be fine,’” Boebert says with a laugh.

Omar is Muslim. Boebert’s comment about Omar not wearing a backpack was an apparent reference to her not carrying a suicide bomb.

The reaction to the video was swift. Omar called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to “take appropriate action” because “normalizing this bigotry not only endangers my life but the lives of all Muslims. Anti-Muslim bigotry has no place in Congress.”

House Democratic leadership also issued a joint statement condemning “Boebert’s repeated, ongoing and targeted Islamophobic comments and actions,” while calling on McCarthy “to finally take real action to confront racism.”

Yet McCarthy, who is in line to become House speaker if Republicans retake the majority next year, has proven reluctant to police members of his caucus whose views are often closely aligned with the party’s base.

Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said the speaker had nothing new to add Monday and pointed to the statement issued by Democratic leaders last week calling on McCarthy to act.

Boebert tweeted Friday that “I apologize to anyone in the Muslim community I offended with my comment about Rep Omar,” adding that “there are plenty of policy differences to focus on without this unnecessary distraction.”

It’s not Boebert’s first brush with controversy — nor Omar’s. Since Boebert’s election to Congress in 2020, she has leaned into provocative broadsides that delight the party’s base. Omar has drawn her focus in particular. She has previously called Omar and others “full- propagandists” for “state-sponsored terrorism,” and “politicians with suicide belts strapped their body.”

In May, she tweeted that Omar was “a full- propagandist for Hamas”. She has also called Omar and Michigan Rep Rashida Tlaib “evil” while also referring to them as the “jihad squad.” Tlaib, like Omar, is Muslim.

Omar too has drawn scrutiny for her comments, often in reference to Israel, some of which have been blasted as anti-Semitic.

In 2019, she suggested that Israel’s supporters are pushing US lawmakers to take a pledge of “allegiance to a foreign country.” She was also pressured to apologise “unequivocally” for suggesting that congressional support for Israel was “all about the Benjamins baby,” a longstanding trope about Jews buying influence.

House Democratic leadership directly rebuked Omar over the remarks.

With inputs from Associated Press and Fox News

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