Congress Must Reject Republican Attacks on Ilhan Omar

McCarthy’s “unjustifiable and hypocritical” threat to remove Representative Ilhan Omar
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(WASHINGTON, D.C, 11/21/22) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today called on Republican and Democratic members of Congress to reject Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s “unjustifiable and hypocritical” threat to remove Representative Ilhan Omar, the first Black Muslim woman elected to Congress, from her position on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. 

McCarthy is expected to become Speaker of the House in the next Congress, which starts in January. McCarthy has threatened to remove Rep. Omar from her committee assignment while pledging to reinstate the committee assignments of anti-Muslim and antisemitic conspiracy theorist Marjorie Taylor Greene. 

SEE: Kevin McCarthy Offers Dark Assurance About Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Future | HuffPost Latest News: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/kevin-mccarthy-marjorie-taylor-greene_n_6...

In a statement, CAIR Director of Government Affairs Department Robert McCaw said:

“We call on both Republican and Democratic members of Congress to reject Mr. McCarthy’s unjustified and hypocritical threat to strip Representative Ilhan Omar from her position on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.  

“It would be beyond hypocritical for Mr. McCarthy to target one of the first American Muslim women elected to Congress while pledging to reinstate the committee positions of a real and unapologetic antisemite and Islamophobe like Marjorie Taylor Greene. Attacking Rep. Omar while embracing Rep. Greene would smack of hypocrisy, racism and Islamophobia. 

“In light of the surprising gains that Republican candidates made among Muslim voters during this midterm election, Rep. McCarthy should strategize about how to better appeal to the American Muslim community instead of working to target and alienate them at the start of the next Congress. 

“Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress should come together to reject this cynical political attack on Rep. Omar. Members of Congress should not be silenced for daring to consistently speak out against human rights violations, whether committed by our nation’s adversaries, allies or even our own government.” 

BACKGROUND: WHO IS REP. OMAR, REPUBLICAN ATTACKS ON FIRST MUSLIM WOMAN IN CONGRESS, AFRICAN IMMIGRANT  

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar is best known for several firsts. Omar is the first Somali American and the first naturalized citizen of African birth to serve in the U.S. Congress, and the first woman of color to represent Minnesota. She is also the first woman to wear a hijab on the House floor after successfully advocating for a change to the House rules that denied her religious freedom to wear a head covering.  

SEE: Ilhan Omar – #WomensHistoryMonth (cair.com): https://www.cair.com/press_releases/ilhanomar-womenshistorymonth/  

Rep. Omar’s office today released a statement calling out McCarthy’s threat, saying in part, “From the moment I was elected, the Republican Party has made it their mission to use fear, xenophobia, Islamophobia and racism to target me on the House Floor and through millions of dollars of campaign ads” adding “McCarthy’s effort to repeatedly single me out for scorn and hatred—including threatening to strip me from my committee—does nothing to address the issues our constituents deal with. It does nothing to address inflation, healthcare, or solve the climate crisis.”  

Read: Rep. Omar’s Full Statement on Kevin McCarthy Threat: https://omar.house.gov/media/press-releases/rep-ilhan-omar-statement-kev...  

In March, CAIRcalled on Republican congressional leaders – including Kevin McCarthy – to strongly condemn Rep.  Marjorie Taylor Greene for her repeated anti-Muslim, racist and antisemitic statements, and targeted attacks on Muslim members of Congress Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI). CAIR also called on McCarthy to reverse his pledge to put Greene back on committees should Republicans win control of the U.S. House.    

In February 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to censure and remove Greene from her committee assignments due to her many extreme, bigoted, and threatening statements.  

Greene had attended an event organized by a white nationalist at which attendees cheered Vladimir Putin and praised Adolf Hitler.   

CAIR’s Islamophobia.org profile states in part:  

“MTG’s Islamophobia well predates her time in Congress. MTG suggested that Muslims do not belong in the U.S. government and has indulged in and promoted widely debunked conspiracy theories.”  

READ: CAIR’S ISLAMOPHOBIA PROFILE ON REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE: https://islamophobia.org/islamophobic-individuals/marjorie-taylor-greene/

In April 2021, CAIR condemned a now-deleted Islamophobic tweet by Congressman Greg Murphy (R-NC) invoking the 9/11 terror attacks and targeting Rep. Omar.    

CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.   

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