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Ilhan Omar: Lauren Boebert’s ‘Jihad Squad’ bigotry is ‘no laughing matter’

·3-min read
<span>Photograph: Allison Bailey/Rex/Shutterstock</span>
Photograph: Allison Bailey/Rex/Shutterstock

Islamophobic remarks by Lauren Boebert are “no laughing matter”, Ilhan Omar said, demanding action from congressional leaders – after the Colorado Republican said sorry.

Related: Why Republicans are embracing Kyle Rittenhouse as their mascot

“Saying I am a suicide bomber is no laughing matter,” the Minnesota Democrat tweeted. “[House Republican leader] Kevin McCarthy and [Speaker] Nancy Pelosi need to take appropriate action, normalising this bigotry not only endangers my life but the lives of all Muslims. Anti-Muslim bigotry has no place in Congress.”

Boebert made the remarks in her home district. To laughs and whoops, she joked about encountering Omar, one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress, in an elevator on Capitol Hill.

“I see a Capitol police officer running to the elevator,” she said. “I see fret all over his face, and he’s reaching, and the door’s shutting, like I can’t open it, like what’s happening. I look to my left, and there she is. Ilhan Omar.

“And I said, ‘Well, she doesn’t have a backpack, we should be fine.’ We only had one floor to go. I said, ‘Oh look, the Jihad Squad decided show up for work today.’”

That was a reference to the “Squad”, a group of prominent House progressives of which Omar is a member. Boebert, a far-right Trump ally and controversialist, has also used the term on the floor of the House.

Racism and bigotry of any form, including Islamophobia, must always be called out, confronted and condemned

Democratic House leaders

In response, Omar said: “Fact. This buffoon looks down when she sees me at the Capitol, this whole story is made up. Sad she thinks bigotry gets her clout.

“Anti-Muslim bigotry isn’t funny and shouldn’t be normalised. Congress can’t be a place where hateful and dangerous Muslims tropes get no condemnation.”

In the face of widespread condemnation, Boebert apologised “to anyone in the Muslim community I offended with my comment about Representative Omar”.

She also said she had “reached out to [Omar’s] office to speak with her directly. There are plenty of policy differences to focus on without this unnecessary distraction”.

Democratic House leaders including Pelosi indicated that was not enough.

“Racism and bigotry of any form, including Islamophobia, must always be called out, confronted and condemned in any place it is found,” they said in a joint statement.

“Congresswoman Boebert’s repeated, ongoing and targeted Islamophobic comments and actions against … Ilhan Omar are both deeply offensive and concerning … we call upon Congresswoman Boebert to fully retract these comments and refrain from making similar ones going forward.”

The statement also condemned as “outrageous” McCarthy “and the entire House Republican leadership’s repeated failure to condemn inflammatory and bigoted rhetoric from members of their conference”.

Related: Can the Republican party escape Trump? Politics Weekly Extra - podcast

Another far-right Republican, Paul Gosar of Arizona, was recently formally censured for tweeting a video in which he was depicting killing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, another leading progressive, and threatening Joe Biden.

Only two Republicans voted for censure: Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, who both broke with the pro-Trump wing over the Capitol attack.

On Friday, Kinzinger called Boebert “trash” and said: “I take sides between decency and disgusting.”

Perhaps alluding to McCarthy’s silence on controversies involving pro-Trump figures, he wrote: “Ask some of the normal members when they last talked to Kevin? Been a while for most.”

On Friday evening another pro-Trump extremist, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, tweeted that she “just got off a good call” with McCarthy.

“We spent time talking about solving problems not only in the conference, but for our country,” she said. “I like what he has planned ahead.”

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