Repeated racist attacks from the president are threatening Ilhan Omar’s life, the Minnesota congresswoman told MSNBC over the weekend, after the president said she “truly hates our country” at a Michigan rally on Saturday.
“Every time the president has invoked my name, it has incited violence against me,” Rep Omar told Joshua Johnson of MSNBC’s The Week.
“This president is creating an environment where he is threatening to lock up his political opponents, where people no longer understand that in a democracy we are supposed to debate policy differences but we are not supposed to harm one another,” she added. “And when you have a leader, the president of the United States not understand that, then there is danger, not only to our way of life, but to our democracy and the ways it's supposed to function.”
In March, for example, a New York man who said, “Somebody ought to put a bullet in her skull,” of Ms Omar was sentenced to a year in prison. (Rep Omar submitted a letter to the court asking for a light sentence, writing, “The answer to hate is not more hate; it is compassion.”)
She also connected the threats she’s faced to the ones against Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, whom a vigilante group tried to kidnap before being foiled by the FBI earlier this month. Ms Whitmer has said the president’s rhetoric has encouraged violent extremism.
“When our leaders speak, their words matter. They carry weight,” Whitmer said in a recent speech. “When our leaders meet, encourage or fraternise with domestic terrorists, they legitimise their actions and they are complicit.”
The president often insults his political opponents, but he is especially aggressive and often extremely racist and xenophobic against Rep Omar and other Muslims, usually while accusing them of being the hateful ones.
During the president’s first campaign, he called for a “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” and released a statement that said Muslims have “great hatred towards Americans” and “believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life."
Hate crimes hit a 16-year high in 2018, and some blame the spike on the rhetoric of the president and some of his supporters.