Political News

Muslim members of Congress condemn Islamophobia after bigoted remarks

Representatives Andre Carson, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Talib and Jamaal Bowman hold News Conference on Islamaphobia
Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) — Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Andre Carson on Tuesday night forcefully condemned the anti-Muslim remarks made by their colleague, Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert, last week.

Omar, Tlaib, and Carson are the only three Muslims in Congress.

“We may only be three among hundreds serving in Congress, but we are strong advocates that won’t shy away in demanding better for our communities. No one deserves to feel hate or racism solely based on one’s faith. It’s completely unacceptable,” Tlaib said.

A shaken Omar spoke of her difficult experiences as a Muslim American — from the person who told her she would never be elected to Congress for wearing a hijab, to the bigoted reception she received from some Republican members when she was first elected.

“So, when a sitting member of Congress calls a colleague a member of the “jihad squad” and falsifies a story to suggest that I will blow up the Capitol, it is not just attack on me, but on millions of American Muslims across this country,” Omar said of Boebert.

In a video posted to Twitter last week, Boebert referred to Omar as a member of the “Jihad Squad” and claimed that a Capitol Police officer thought she was a terrorist in an encounter in an elevator on Capitol Hill.

She apologized on Twitter Friday “to anyone in the Muslim community I offended,” adding that she had reached out to Omar’s office to speak with her directly, but the phone call did not go well.

Omar hung up on Boebert after the Colorado Republican refused to make a public apology to her, according to a statement from Omar and Boebert’s account of the call.

“We cannot pretend that this hate speech from leading politicians doesn’t have real consequences,” Omar said Tuesday. “The truth is that anti-Muslim hate is on the rise both here at home and around the world.”

Omar said she has received “hundreds” of death threats often triggered by Republican attacks. She held up her phone to the mics and played out a disturbingly graphic voicemail she received just hours after she got off the phone with Boebert on Monday — highlighting the types of threats she receives.

“Condemning this should not be a partisan issue,” Omar said. “This is about our basic humanity and fundamental rights of religious freedom enshrined in our Constitution. Yet, while some members of the Republican Party have condemned this, to date, the Republican Party leadership has done nothing to hold their members accountable.”

Omar said she wants “appropriate action” taken against Boebert but will leave it to leadership to decide what that means. She did not seem keen on the idea of a resolution that would condemn Islamophobia, noting that it’s been done before.

“This kind of hateful rhetoric and actions cannot go without punishment. There has to be accountability,” she said.

A senior Democratic aide confirmed to ABC News that House leadership discussed a possible resolution condemning Islamophobia but didn’t make any decisions during a meeting Tuesday night.

“Rep. Boebert has directed hateful, racist rhetoric against my colleague and friend, Rep. Omar,” Rep. Carson said. “Her verbal abuse was incendiary and hurtful to her and Muslims across the country and the world.”

“This is not about hurt feelings or mean-spirited words. This is about calling out individuals who deliberately incite violence and irresponsibly spread lies and misinformation,” Carson added.

Rep. Jamaal Bowman, who is not Muslim, also stood in solidarity with Omar, Tlaib and Carson during the press conference and called on Boebert to be removed from her committees.

“I’m urging House leadership to hold Lauren Boebert accountable by removing her from her committee assignments, advancing a resolution of condemnation, and taking all other appropriate measures to ensure our message that Islamophobia, anti-Blackness, and xenophobia will not stand is loud and clear,” he said in a statement.

ABC News’ Benjamin Siegel contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.