Ilhan Omar reveals death threat in wake of Islamophobic comments

Omar urges Republican leaders to fight ‘anti-Muslim hatred’ after legislator refused to publicly apologise for comments.

US Representative Ilhan Omar urged Republican leaders to stand up to 'anti-Muslim hate' [File: J Scott Applewhite/The Associated Press]

United States Representative Ilhan Omar has played a racist, death-threat laden voicemail left for her after fellow legislator Lauren Boebert refused to publicly apologise for a video in which she called Omar a member of the “jihad squad” and likened her to a suicide bomber.

In a news conference on Tuesday, Omar called on Republican leadership, who have so far declined to punish Boebert over the comments, to stand up to “anti-Muslim hate” and to “hold those who perpetuate it accountable”.

“We see you, you Muslim sand n***** b****,” began the voicemail.

“Don’t worry, there are plenty who would love the opportunity to take you off the face of this f****** earth,” the caller continued. “You will not live much longer b****, I can almost guarantee you that.”

Omar said she received the call on Monday, hours after Boebert, in a phone call, refused to apologise publicly for her comments, which were captured on a video that emerged last week.

In the footage, Boebert described encountering Omar at the US Capitol and being relieved she “doesn’t have a backpack”, in an apparent reference to Omar possibly carrying a bomb.

Boebert last week apologised “to anyone in the Muslim community I offended”, but did not directly refer to Omar.

Omar, who became the first Somali American and naturalised citizen of African birth to serve in the US House of Representatives when she was elected in 2018, said the voicemail came through shortly after Boebert posted another video on social media on Monday.

In it, she said she would “fearlessly continue to put America first, never sympathising with terrorists”.

“Unfortunately Ilhan can’t say the same thing and our country is worse off for it,” she said.

Omar, a Democrat and one of a handful of Muslims in the US Congress, has said threatening calls have become a regular occurrence as she continues to face personal attacks from conservative pundits and some legislators.

“When a sitting member of Congress calls a colleague a member of the ‘jihad squad’ and falsifies a story to suggest I will blow up the Capitol, it is not just an attack on me but on millions of American Muslims across the country,” Omar said on Tuesday.

“We cannot pretend this hate speech from leading politicians doesn’t have real consequences,” she added.

While Representative Andre Carson, who is also Muslim, has said he is working with Democratic leadership on a House resolution that would address the issue, Republican brass appeared largely unmoved by Omar’s comments.

On Tuesday, House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy said Boebert’s initial apology to the Muslim community should suffice.

When asked if he would respond to any effort to censure Boebert, he responded:  “After she apologised personally and publicly? I’d vote against it.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies