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April 18, 2019

Targeting Ilhan

Editorial

 
April 18, 2019

US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has become the target of a vicious racist hate campaign led by US President Donald Trump. First, it was her questioning of the links between US lawmakers and Israeli lobbyists that came into question. Now, it is her fairly sound remarks over how the 9/11 attacks impacted American Muslims. Trump shared a video of Ilhan Omar talking about the discrimination American Muslims have faced after the attacks; her statement was superimposed on a video of the 9/11 attacks. The nonsensical correlation aside, the objective is clear: the US president is accusing Omar of supporting the 9/11 attacks while also blaming the entire Muslim community for them. There is little doubt that this is a continuation of the cultural war that Trump wants his supporters to wage against all forms of non-white immigrants in the US. The intention is clear: Omar is to be portrayed as a terrorist for her critical views of a racist administration. There is no doubt that she has become the perfect foil for driving a deeper wedge in the US.

Only last month, a man was arrested for plotting to kill Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. The right-wing media continues to ask questions about her loyalty to America, despite her continued declarations that she loves America (despite the hatred she is getting). The fact is that the civil rights of Muslims in the US have been under threat since the 9/11 attacks – and the treatment of Congresswoman Omar is proof that things are only getting worse. The office of the president no less seems to be effectively creating a narrative that all Muslims in the US are suspect. This is a dangerous path which can create more social chaos, despite the best efforts of non-white communities in the US to refuse to take the bait.

The real target here is not Congresswoman Omar. It is all Muslim Americans. Trump has attempted bans on Muslims entering the US, which has led to a severe tightening of visa policies for Muslims who are even outside the banned list of countries. The fact that Omar has a strong independent track record, which includes criticising Saudi Arabia as well as being a cosponsor of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund does not matter to this narrative. Her independent streak is perhaps exactly the reason the Trump administration and the US political mainstream want to shut her up.

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