Trump doubles down on Islamophobic attacks as threats against Ilhan Omar rise

"This is endangering lives. It has to stop."

White House stands by Islamaphobic rhetoric as threats against Ilhan Omar rise. (PHOTO CREDIT: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
White House stands by Islamaphobic rhetoric as threats against Ilhan Omar rise. (PHOTO CREDIT: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) said this week she’s seen a surge in threats against her life in the days since President Donald Trump targeted her in an Islamophobic video last week. The White House, however, is showing no signs of backing off its attack.

In a statement Sunday night, Omar wrote, “I have experienced an increase in direct threats on my life — many directly referencing or replying to the President’s video. … Violent rhetoric and all forms of hate speech have no place in our society, much less from our country’s Commander in Chief.”

She added, “We are all Americans. This is endangering lives. It has to stop.”

Omar first came under fire earlier in April after remarks she made last month before the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) resurfaced on Twitter. During her speech, Omar incorrectly stated that CAIR — founded in 1994 — was formed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, “because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.” She also urged Muslim Americans to challenge the stereotype that they were all terrorists and demand equal access to religious liberty.

The comments sparked a wave of backlash, with Omar’s critics claiming she was attempting to downplay the attacks.

On Friday, the president posted a video to his official Twitter account, highlighting Omar’s comment out of context, juxtaposed against gruesome images of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center.

“WE WILL NEVER FORGET!” he wrote alongside the video.

Monday morning, Trump doubled down on his attacks, once more accusing Omar of being “anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, and ungrateful.”

“She is out of control,” Trump claimed.

Trump’s claims on Monday were quickly panned by those who said the president was ignoring the full context of Omar’s speech and her past work with Jewish groups to better understand the language of anti-Semitism. Journalism professor Peter Beinart also noted that Omar’s speech to CAIR last month was “deeply American,” saying her call for Muslim Americans to be more vocal against injustice resonated with his own experience with the Jewish community.


A coalition of progressive organizations and leaders issued a statement of solidarity with Omar on Monday, condemning the “constant racist and bigoted attacks” she had faced on all sides. Among the signers were the heads of Jewish Voice for Peace, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, and Jews United for Justice.

CAIR’s Minnesota chapter and other community organizations plan to protest the president later on Monday, when he visits the Nuss Truck and Equipment facility in Burnsville. The groups said the theme of their rally will be “Stand in Unity for: Love, Respect, Equality, Justice and Democracy.”

“Every American should be disgusted by Trump’s continued incitement against Congresswoman Ilhan Omar,” said Nihad Awad, national executive director at CAIR. “He is endangering Rep. Omar’s life by taking her words out of context and evoking painful imagery to exploit a national tragedy.”