Rep. Ilhan Omar was right: Threats against Muslim Americans are rising

By | April 13, 2019

Mother Jones reports:

In March, about a week after a gunman stormed two mosques in New Zealand, killing dozens of Muslim worshipers, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D–Minn.) gave a speech at the banquet of a Muslim civil rights group in California. A short snippet of that speech—in which Omar referred to the 9/11 attacks as “some people did something”—went viral Friday after it was posted online in a video. Pundits accused her of trying to downplay the 2001 tragedy at the World Trade Center; and President Donald Trump tweeted a video of her sound bite juxtaposed with footage of the Twin Towers up in smoke, and retweeted a comment that asked, “How is this woman walking the halls of Congress.”

This backlash is an intentional distraction from Omar’s broader point. In the 20-minute speech at the Council on American-Islamic Relations banquet, the congresswoman urged Muslim Americans to stand up for their rights in the face of increasing harassment and threats to their safety since 9/11. “Far too long we have lived with the discomfort of being a second-class citizen, and frankly, I’m tired of it, and every single Muslim in this country should be tired of it,” she said in the speech. “CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.”

While Omar misspoke about CAIR’s history—the group was formed in 1994, though its membership jumped after 9/11—her argument that Muslim Americans have faced increasing suspicion is backed by plenty of evidence. Since 2001, Muslim Americans have increasingly dealt with Islamophobia and threats of violence against them. The two most recent FBI reports on hate crimes showed that anti-Muslim assaults are at record levels in the United States, hovering at three times higher than they did a decade ago. Just this week, an Ohio chapter of CAIR asked the FBI to investigate after it received a threatening letter praising the New Zealand attacks as something that brought “tremendous joy” and calling for “Death to Islam everywhere.” Other CAIR chapters have reportedly dealt with similar threats. [Continue reading…]

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