U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar says she has experienced an increase in death threats in the days since President Donald Trump posted a video critical of her comments about the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.
In a statement late Sunday, Omar said many of those threatening her life directly referenced Trump’s post. She also cited a rise in violence and acts of hate by right wing extremists in the United States and elsewhere in the world, saying “we can no longer ignore that they are being encouraged” by Trump.
“Violent rhetoric and all forms of hate speech have no place in our society, much less from our country’s commander in chief,” she wrote. “We are all Americans. This is endangering lives. It has to stop.”
Earlier in the day, the White House denied Trump is inciting violence and Islamophobia.
“Certainly the president is wishing no ill will and certainly not violence towards anyone,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told Fox News Sunday. “But the president should be calling out the congresswoman for not only one time but a history of anti-Semitic comments,” she added, accusing Omar’s fellow Democrats of “looking the other way.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the memories of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack on New York and Washington are “sacred ground and any discussion of it must be done with reverence.”
Pelosi called Trump’s video “disrespectful and dangerous” and said it must be removed.
Democratic Congressman Jerrold Nadler said on CNN Sunday he had no problem with Omar’s comments.
“I have had some problems with some of her other remarks, but not with that one,” he said.
In an emotional speech last month to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Omar spoke out against discrimination against and suspicions of Muslims.
“CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something, that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties … for far too long we have lived with the discomfort of being a second-class citizen and, frankly, I’m tired of it and every single Muslim in the country should be tired of it,” she said.
Trump’s Friday tweet included Omar’s brief line “somebody did something” followed by more than 40 seconds of September 11 terrorist attack news footage and a large graphic repeating the words “somebody did something.”
Other Omar critics have focused solely on that one single line, accusing her of trivializing the inhumanity of September 11 but not mentioning the rest of her speech.
Some Democrats accuse Trump of stirring up the same kind of Islamophobia that Omar was decrying.
Nadler said Trump has “no moral authority” for talking about September 11. He accuses Trump of “stealing” a $150,000 grant meant for small-business owners to rebuild their destroyed businesses after the attack and using that money for his own real estate holding.
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders noted that then-President George W. Bush, a Republican, went to a mosque after 9/11 to assure Muslim Americans that they are not criminals and terrorists.