Is Rep. Omar right to criticize Israel/US comparison as ‘islamophobic’?


Fact Box

  • Ilhan Omar is a Representative for Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District, and is the “first Somali-American Member of Congress, the first woman of color to represent Minnesota, and one of the first two Muslim-American women elected to Congress.”
  • Islamophobia is defined as “irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against Islam or people who practice Islam.”
  • Omar was born in Mogadishu, Somalia in 1981. Her family left the country during the Somali Civil War when she was 8 years old, and spent four years in a Kenyan refugee camp before moving to the US in 1995. 
  • On Monday, June 7, 2021, Rep. Omar tweeted “We must have the same level of accountability and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity. We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the US, Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban.” 
  • On Wednesday, June 9, 2021, a dozen House Democrats criticized Rep. Omar saying her comments about Israel and the United States gave “cover” to terrorists and reflected “deep-seated prejudice.”

Ethan (Yes) 

Criticism between the Democrats and GOP who criticized Representative Omar isn't about other religions—their criticism of each other leaves religion out of it. Still, it conveniently brings Rep. Omar's religion into the discussion. When political opponents bring Rep. Omar's religion into the conversation, this serves as retaliation against her and is, therefore, Islamophobic. The individuals are using her religion to express their disdain for her remarks, rather than saying why they dislike her comments, making it seem as though her religion automatically discredits what she says in religious-political situations. 

Rep. Omar is receiving death threats for her comments—something that wouldn't be tolerated with any other politician. However, because she is a Muslim woman in politics, the death threats are being severely overlooked and downplayed. If a Christian politician was receiving death threats or even the same hate speech centered around his/her religion that Rep. Omar, those responsible would be condemned and facing severe consequences for their actions. 

Muslim stereotypes are being used to attack Rep. Omar, and some individuals are accusing her of having ulterior motives, stating that her 'false equivalencies give cover to terrorist groups.' Terrorism is, in the United States, unfairly associated with Muslims. All Rep. Omar is trying to do is call attention to what is happening in our country's politics and inform the public, which should be the priority of every politician. Religion is only brought into the conversation with Rep. Omar because she is Muslim, and the stereotypes against Muslims are fueling the hate speech being directed at her.

Elizabeth (No)

Ilhan Omar's latest antics are cowardly and unamerican. Time and again, Omar has raced to dish out prejudicial insults and sweeping statements of opinion proclaimed as fact. However, when anyone dares challenge or hold her to account for those statements, she runs for cover behind the unassailable 'Islamophobia' shield. Such hiding either indicates she knows what she said was unfair and didn't want to face criticism, or she's so deep in denial she can't even see, let alone admit, her cause in the controversy.

The current firestorm was lighted by Omar's recent tweet equating the US and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban. She was rightfully criticized for the accusation (the latest in a long history). Any thinking person knows neither the US nor Israel are perfect. But responsibility for the recent tragic civilian deaths should be laid at the feet of Hamas, not Israel. Similarly, the roughly 18,000 Afghans applying to come to the US as we end our 20-year war are a clear indication they are safer here than remaining in their own country once the Taliban officially operates throughout Afghanistan again. 

Wars are always ugly. Mistakes are always made. But both the US and Israel make more efforts to minimize those mistakes than either Hamas or the Taliban can claim. Israel, for example, frequently makes calls or announcements for Palestinians to clear areas that will shortly be targeted. Conversely, Hamas routinely uses hospitals and schools for headquarters or weapons storage. And the Taliban is known to attack villages with no regard for casualties. Ilhan Omar should learn to debate and converse rather than 'lob grenades' into a conversation and then run.

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