WASHINGTON – Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., is calling on House leadership to “take appropriate action” against Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., after the GOP congresswoman made Islamophobic comments towards her during a campaign event.
The comments were posted to Twitter on Thursday by PatriotTakes — who says their mission is to “research, monitor and expose the extremism and radicalization of the far right” — in a video that showed Boebert recounting a supposed run-in with Omar at the U.S. Capitol grounds.
Boebert told a tale of joining an elevator with Omar — the first Somali American elected to Congress — which supposedly made an United States Capitol Police officer rush towards them with “fret all over his face.” She said she responded to the officer that Omar didn’t “have a backpack. We should be fine.”
The crowd at the event laughed, applauded and jeered at the comment that implied the Minnesota lawmaker was a terrorist.
Boebert told the crowd she turned towards Omar in the elevator and said, “‘Oh look, the Jihad Squad decided to show up for work today.'”
Omar responded to the video, denying the story and saying the “whole story is made up.” She continued: “Sad she thinks bigotry gets her clout.”
“Anti-Muslim bigotry isn’t funny & shouldn’t be normalized. Congress can’t be a place where hateful and dangerous Muslims tropes get no condemnation.”
Lawmakers swiftly called on Boebert to apologize for the comments, with many calling them Islamophobic.
Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., wrote the comments were “Shameful, deeply offensive & dangerous. Yet another blatant display of Islamophobia targeting [Omar].”
“These comments are personally hurtful, legitimately endanger her & the broader Muslim community. Rhetoric like this must be denounced & anyone spewing it held to account,” she continued.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., called Boebert “TRASH” on Twitter.
Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., called Capitol Hill “a toxic work environment for Muslim members and staff when bigots routinely spew racist, Islamophobic vitriol unchecked and with no consequence.”
Boebert apologized Friday, tweeting: “I apologize to anyone in the Muslim community I offended with my comment about Rep. Omar.”
“I have reached out to her office to speak with her directly. There are plenty of policy differences to focus on without this unnecessary distraction.”
However, the apology was not enough for Omar.
“Saying I am a suicide bomber is no laughing matter,” she tweeted. She called on both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to “take appropriate action.”
“[N]ormalizing this bigotry not only endangers my life but the lives of all Muslims. Anti-Muslim bigotry has no place in Congress,” she concluded.
“Appropriate action” could be censorship, which some social media users, like Boebert’s opponent Donald Valdez, called for online.
It wouldn’t be the first time the House has taken action against GOP lawmakers this year for derogatory actions or comments.
The House recently censured Boebert’s colleague, Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz.,for posting an anime video that was edited to show him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and attacking President Joe Biden. He was also stripped of his committee assignments.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., was also stripped of her committee assignments after she espoused multiple dangerous conspiracy theories.
McCarthy did not publicly condemn Gosar for the video and instead privately discussed the issue with the Arizona Republican, who later removed the video.
Additionally, McCarthy recently said if Republicans take control of the House in the 2022 midterm elections and he was voted the chamber’s speaker, he would reinstate Gosar and Greene.
“They’ll have committees. They may have other committee assignments,” said McCarthy. He then went a step farther, saying, “They may have better committee assignments.”
Pelosi and other members of House Democratic Leadership called on Boebert “to fully retract these comments and refrain from making similar ones going forward” in a Friday statement.
They also said McCarthy and “the entire House Republican Leadership’s repeated failure to condemn inflammatory and bigoted rhetoric from members of their conference is outrageous. We call on the Republican Leadership to address this priority with the Congresswoman and to finally take real action to confront racism.”
“Racism and bigotry of any form, including Islamophobia, must always be called out, confronted and condemned in any place it is found. This is particularly true in the halls of Congress, which are the very heart of our democracy,” they said. Boebert’s “repeated, ongoing and targeted Islamophobic comments and actions against another Member of Congress, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, are both deeply offensive and concerning.”
Boebert has used the offensive “Jihad squad” phrase several times before, including on the House floor when defending Gosar in a debate during the vote on his censorship.
Omar is part of a group of lawmakers dubbed “the Squad”, largely composed of lawmakers of color.
Boebert is known for incendiary rhetoric, as well as being a fierce ally of former President Donald Trump, her comments leading up to — and surrounding — the January 6 attack on the U.S Capitol and other controversial actions, like displaying a gun “shrine” as a Zoom background during a virtual hearing.