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US: Democrats denounce lawmaker's anti-Muslim attacks

More than 40 House Democrats call for Lauren Boebert to be stripped of committee assignments after calling Ilhan Omar 'jihad squad' member
During an event in her Colorado district last month, Boebert referred to Omar as a member of the "jihad Squad".
During an event in her Colorado district last month, Lauren Boebert referred to Ilhan Omar as a member of the "jihad squad" (AFP/File photo)
By MEE staff in Washington

More than 40 House Democrats, including the chairs of five congressional caucuses, are calling for Congresswoman Lauren Boebert to be stripped of her committee assignments, after her repeated "anti-Muslim" attacks against fellow lawmaker Ilhan Omar.

Thirty-six members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus signed a letter that called for Boebert to lose her committee assignments.

The letter, led by Congresswomen Cori Bush and Pramila Jayapal, Congressmen Jamaal Bowman and Andre Carson, said Boebert's actions made their work environment dangerous.

"We refuse to stand by as Islamophobia, anti-Blackness, anti-immigrant sentiment, and xenophobia are trafficked into the halls of Congress by members of the Republican party," the lawmakers wrote, as reported by the Washington Post.

"Today, we are calling for Rep. Boebert to be removed from her committee assignments. Our response to behavior that creates a dangerous work environment and furthers a climate of toxicity and intolerance cannot be silence."

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In a separate letter, Jayapal and the chairs of four other congressional caucuses said "there must be consequences when Members of Congress demonize an entire religion and promote hate from their positions of public trust," referring to the threats Omar has received since the verbal attacks from Boebert.

"It should not be a partisan issue to condemn the explicit harassment and dangerous abuse of a colleague based on their religion," the caucus leaders wrote in their letter.

House Republican leaders have been facing numerous calls to condemn Islamophobic remarks by members of their party, including comments by Boebert and Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Greene previously said Muslims did not belong in government and referred to the elections of Omar and Rashida Tlaib, another Muslim woman member of Congress, as "an Islamic invasion of our government".

It is not clear if Boebert will be removed from her comittee assignments, but she would not be the first. Greene was removed from her committee duties after she supported comments encouraging violence against Democrats and peddling antisemitic tropes.

'Jihad squad'

During an event in her Colorado district last month, Boebert shared a story of an encounter with Omar, who she went on to refer as a member of the "jihad squad".

She also shared another encounter with Omar where she said she remarked to a Capitol Police officer: "Well, she doesn't have a backpack. We should be fine."

Omar condemned the remarks, saying the story was "made up," and called for Boebert to be disciplined by House leaders.

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Last week, Boebert tweeted an apology "to anyone in the Muslim community I offended with my comment about Rep. Omar".

However, in a phone call with Omar on Monday, she refused to publicly apologise and instead accused the Minnesota Democrat of "anti-American and antisemitic" rhetoric.

This is not the first time Boebert has used this verbal attack line on Omar. Earlier in November, Boebert said on the House floor that Omar was a "jihad squad member from Minnesota with a brother-husband".

At a news conference on Tuesday, Omar played a threatening voice mail that she said she received after Boebert's comments were directed at her.

Since entering Congress, the Muslim lawmaker has faced a deluge of hate and Islamophobic attacks from inside and outside Congress.

She has said she also faced numerous death threats, with a supporter of former president Donald Trump making a threat on her life in 2019.

"Condemning this should not be a partisan issue," she said during Tuesday's news conference. "This is about our basic humanity and fundamental rights of religious freedom enshrined in our Constitution."

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