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Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., held a press conference in response to high-profile criticism directed at her by GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert and accused the Colorado congresswoman of attacking millions of Americans with her rhetoric.
“The truth is that Islamophobia pervades our culture, our politics and even policy decisions,” Omar, who is Muslim and immigrated from Somalia as a child, told reporters during a press conference Tuesday. “Leading politicians in the Republican Party routinely spout hateful rhetoric about a religion that includes a diverse group of more than a billion peaceful worshipers around the world. This includes falsely claiming Muslims want to replace the Constitution and implement Sharia law, portraying Muslims as inherently violent.”
US Representative Lauren Boebert, Republican of Colorado, alongside members of the House Freedom Caucus, calls on senior administration officials, including US President Joe Biden, to resign or be impeached over the handling of the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan, during a press conference outside of the US Capitol in Washington, DC August 31, 2021. (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
The dispute started when Boebert was recently filmed telling supporters that she had a run-in with Omar in a Capitol building elevator. She said she was getting in the elevator with a staffer when she saw a Capitol police officer running toward them “with fret all over his face” in an effort to stop the elevator door from closing.
Boebert added: “And I said, ‘Well, she doesn’t have a backpack. We should be fine.'”
At the press conference, Omar continued: “But, the most pervasive is the constant suggestion that all Muslims are terrorists and should be feared. So when a sitting member of Congress calls a colleague a member of the ‘Jihad Squad’ and … falsifies story to suggest that I will blow up the Capitol, it is not just attack on me, but on millions of American Muslims across this country.”
Omar was joined at the press conference by her Democratic colleagues Reps. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., Andre Carson, D-Ind., and Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., and the term “Islamophobia” was used multiple times during the event.
“Sadly, Islamophobia and hate crimes against Muslims are nothing new in our country,” Tlaib said. “And I know that I know that personally because I’ve seen, but as a parent, I’m especially hurt by the presence of Islamophobia in Congress.”
“Islamophobia is a disease that has been around for far too long, and it is something we need to attack and end,” Bowman said.
Omar also played an audio recording of a voicemail she says she received after Boebert’s attack from a man who called her the n-word and referred to her as a “traitor” who will “not live much longer.”
U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) talks to reporters after taking a photo with a bipartisan group of congress members to honor National Recovery Month at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., September 27, 2021. (Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters)
Omar was asked what she thought Boebert’s punishment should be, if any, and the congresswoman said that the decision should be made by leadership.
When asked about House Minority Kevin McCarthy’s role in the spat, Omar said, “I can’t speak for him. You have to ask this question. What I will say is that the silence speaks for itself. If they want to get rid of this kind of toxic, hateful behavior in their conference, they have to take action.”
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said Tuesday Democrats are leaving open the option to potentially censure Boebert or remove her from her committee assignments as the dispute between her and Omar continues to simmer.
“We’re considering what action ought to be taken,” Hoyer said when asked if Boebert should be stripped of her committee assignments or censured.
Boebert has faced backlash and apologized for the comment, but the two had a phone conversation about the incident that both say went poorly and ended with Omar hanging up the phone in disgust.
“Today I graciously accepted a call from Rep. Lauren Boebert in the hope of receiving a direct apology for falsely claiming she met me in an elevator, suggesting I was a terrorist, and for a history of anti-Muslim hate,” Omar said in a statement.
House Freedom Caucus hold a press conference on Immigration at the Southern Border, outside of the U.S. Capitol. Featuring: Lauren Boebert Where: Washington, District Of Columbia, United States When: 17 Mar 2021 (POOL via CNP/InStar/Cover Images)
“Now as a strong, Christian woman who values faith deeply, I never want anything I say to offend someone’s religion,” Boebert said in her description of the call. “So I told her that. Even after I put out a public statement to that effect, she said that she still wanted a public apology because what I had done wasn’t good enough. So I reiterated to her what I had just said.”
Boebert added, “She kept asking for a public apology so I told Ilhan Omar that she should make a public apology to the American people for her anti-American, anti-Semitic, anti-police rhetoric. She continued to press, and I continued to press back. And then, Representative Omar hung up on me.”
Fox News’ Tyler Olson contributed to this report