Ilhan Omar: Muslim lawmaker sees rise in death threats after Trump tweet – BBC News

Trump and Ilhan OmarImage copyright Reuters/ Getty

One of the first ever Muslim members of the US Congress has said that a tweet by President Donald Trump has led to an increase in threats against her life.

Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar said the threats were sparked by “violent rhetoric”, accusing Mr Trump of stoking right-wing extremism. “It has to stop,” she added.

It comes after Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced a new “security assessment to safeguard” the lawmaker.

The tweet showed Ms Omar talking to a US-Muslim group about the 9/11 attacks.

On Monday Mr Trump stepped up his attacks against Ms Omar, calling her “out of control”.

He also said Mrs Pelosi “should look at the anti-Semitic, anti-Israel and ungrateful US HATE statements Omar has made” before defending her.

What’s the background?

Congresswoman Omar has become a lightning rod for criticism following her 2018 election.

Mr Trump tweeted on Friday “WE WILL NEVER FORGET” alongside a 43-second edited video showing footage of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, spliced with a speech by Ms Omar.

“Some people did something,” she is seen saying, in between footage of planes hitting the World Trade Center, damage to the Pentagon and people fleeing buildings.

Democrats claimed the video does not provide context to Ms Omar’s 20-minute speech to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (Cair) on 23 March.

She was discussing civil rights for Muslim Americans in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

Cair, she said, was founded “because they recognised that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties”.

Republican critics said that her comment “some people did something” was offensive to the nearly 3,000 Americans killed in the attacks.

How has Ms Omar responded?

In a statement on Sunday, Ms Omar said: “Since the president’s tweet Friday evening, I have experienced an increase in direct threats on my life – many directly referring or replying to the president’s video”.

She thanked security officials for “their attention to these threats” and accused Mr Trump of fuelling a rise in “violent crimes and other acts of hate by right-wing extremists and white nationalists”.

She also expressed concern that Mr Trump’s visit to her home state of Minnesota on Monday could lead to an increase in hate crimes and assaults.

“Violent rhetoric and all forms of hate speech have no place in our society, much less from our country’s Commander in Chief.

“We are all Americans. This is endangering lives. It has to stop,” she said.

Earlier this month a man was charged with threatening to kill Ms Omar over her Muslim faith.

The Republican strategy on Ilhan Omar

Analysis by Jon Sopel, North America Editor, BBC News

Ilhan Omar is taking one helluva kicking. But this is brutality with a purpose for Republican strategists.

In his State of the Union address the president said he would save America from Socialism. As ‘radical’ ‘progressive’ Democrats become ever more vocal – whether on the environment, Israel, raising taxes, pushing socialised medicine – so the president sees this as a way of peeling away ‘moderate’ Democrats and independents. The political centre of gravity in the US is way to the right of what it is in Europe.

But the president has also got his shovel out and dug a deep hole, covered it with some brush and leaves, and is lying in wait for the Democratic Party leadership to fall into the trap he’s set.

Are they going to ally themselves with the young Minnesota congresswoman, in which case he will hang those four words around their necks too, or will they abandon her – allowing the president to proclaim how divided the Democratic Party is? But the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi is a wily operator, and she doesn’t blunder into much blindly – much though Donald Trump wants her to.

Read more analysis from Jon Sopel

What is reaction?

On Sunday, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Mr Trump wishes “no ill will and certainly not violence” towards the first-term lawmaker.

Referring to her previous controversial comments, in which Ms Omar questioned US support for Israel, Ms Sanders added: “It’s absolutely abhorrent the comments that she continues to make and has made and they look the other way.”

The tweet, which had been posted to the top of Mr Trump’s Twitter feed on Sunday, was removed after Mrs Pelosi made the request to the White House, but is still viewable on his feed.

“The President’s words weigh a tonne, and his hateful and inflammatory rhetoric creates real danger,” she said in a statement while travelling in London.

“President Trump must take down his disrespectful and dangerous video,” she said, adding that security officials are reviewing Ms Omar’s protection and “will continue to monitor and address the threats she faces”.

Source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-47938268

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