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As Ilhan Omar endures anti-Muslim racism, most lawmakers in Congress remain silent

An Islamophobic display at the West Virginia statehouse Friday has drawn little outrage from her fellow House members.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), attends a news conference to introduce H.R. 4, Voting Rights Advancement Act, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. (Credit: Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), attends a news conference to introduce H.R. 4, Voting Rights Advancement Act, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. (Credit: Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The West Virginia statehouse on Friday allowed an Islamophobic organization to display an anti-Muslim poster targeting Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress.

WV Act for America — designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-Muslim hate group — placed the poster outside the chamber to commemorate the state’s GOP day.

The poster depicted an image of Omar beneath an image of the burning World Trade Center towers with the words, “‘Never Forget’” — You said.. I am proof that you have forgotten.” Act for America also distributed anti-Muslim articles and pamphlets, including one entitled, “Readin’, Writin’, and Jihadin’ The Islamization of America Public Schools.”

The anti-Muslim display was the second Omar has faced in one day. On Friday, the congresswoman tweeted an image of graffiti at a gas station in her home state which said, “Assassinate Ilhan Omar.”

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“No wonder why I am on the ‘Hitlist’ of a domestic terrorist and ‘Assassinate Ilhan Omar’ is written on my local gas station,” Omar wrote on Twitter Friday.

But Omar largely dealt with the racism on her own. Few lawmakers spoke out against the West Virginia GOP for allowing the poster to be displayed. On Saturday evening, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) noted the members of Congress who criticized Omar weeks ago over her unintentional use of an anti-Semitic trope in a tweet about the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) should defend her against the racism she faces on an almost daily basis.

“I’m pretty heartbroken that there isn’t more denunciation of this outward and blatant expression of bigotry and Islamophobia by a state party,” she said. “[In my opinion] those who stood up against anti-Semitism a few weeks ago should also be calling out the Islamophobia here, too.”

Indeed, at the time of publication, neither Democratic leaders in the House and Senate — Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) — had publicly condemned the actions of the West Virginia GOP.

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Across the aisle, Republicans who slammed Omar for employing an anti-Semitic trope, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), remained silent about the racism she has been facing over the weekend.