Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar has condemned a poster, displayed at a Republican Party-sponsored event in the West Virginia legislature, that falsely linked her to the 9/11 attacks and appeared to liken her to a terrorist.
An image of the poster was tweeted out by Democratic State Rep. Mike Pushkin after he spotted it in the state legislature building in Charleston, Va., during the ‘WV GOP Day’ event on Friday.
It shows an image of the burning twin towers with the words “Never forget — you said..” Below it is a picture of the Muslim Congresswoman along with the words “I am the proof — you have forgotten.”
Omar, the first Somali-American and one of the first two Muslim women elected to U.S. Congress, said the poster was just the latest example of the Islamophobia she regularly faces.
“No wonder why I am on the ‘Hitlist’ of a domestic terrorist and ‘Assassinate Ilhan Omar’ is written on my local gas stations,” she tweeted. “Look no further, the GOP’s anti-Muslim display likening me to a terrorist rocks in state capitols and no one is condemning them!”
Omar’s mention of a hit list may be a reference to U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant Christopher Paul Hasson’s alleged white nationalist terrorist plot to assassinate several Democratic politicians.
U.S. prosecutors said Omar was one of many prominent Democrats on a hit list compiled by Hasson.
The poster was one of several displays set up at a booth that displayed the name of conservative organization ACT for America which has been designated a hate group by many progressive organizations.
“Readin’, Writin’, And Jihadin,’ The Islamization of American Public Schools,” read one of the displays. Another warned of “The Four Stages of Islamic Conquest.”
ACT for America issued a statement Saturday saying it was not responsible for the offensive displays.
“Anyone who claimed to be with ACT for America was doing so without the permission and approval of ACT for America,” the statement read. “ACT has one million members and 45,000 activists and chapter leaders. It is impossible for our National headquarter for monitor the behaviour of every single individual who claims to represent us.”
“While we find many of the views and actions of Congresswoman Ilhan Omar to be reprehensible, the display in the Capitol rotunda would have never been approved or endorsed by our National Office.”
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U.S. media reported that heated arguments erupted in the state legislature after Democrats protested about the poster of Omar.
One lawmaker got so angry that he kicked a door open, resulting in injury to a doorkeeper, according to the speaker of the House.
Some Republicans took to the floor of the legislature to cite First Amendment rights to free speech, West Virginia Public Broadcasting reported.
“My issue with what I saw outside has to do with another truly American foundational issue and that’s freedom of speech,” Republican delegate Dianna Graves reportedly said. “So, while I may not agree with everything that is out there, I do agree that freedom of speech is something that we have to protect, even if we don’t agree with it. Maybe especially when we don’t agree with it.”
The House’s sergeant at arms, Anne Lieberman, was accused by Democratic delegate Michael Angelucci of responding to the uproar by saying “All Muslims are terrorists,” NBC News reported.
She tendered her resignation later Friday.
On Sunday, however, Lieberman said she was mis-heard and that she actually said, “Not all Muslims are terrorists.” She said she offered to resign to “diffuse” the situation.
Republican House Speaker Roger Hanshaw said he was ashamed by the poster.
“We owe it to ourselves; we owe it our constituents; we owe it to the men and women and children and families that we represent to do better than we are,” Hanshaw told lawmakers.
“We have allowed national level politics to become a cancer on our state, to become a cancer on our legislature, to invade our chamber in a way that frankly makes me ashamed.”
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Several Democrats expressed disappointment that there wasn’t more condemnation of the poster from Republicans.
“I’m pretty heartbroken that there isn’t more denunciation of this outward and blatant expression of bigotry and Islamophobia by a state party,” tweeted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Ocasio-Cortez was referring to the uproar sparked by Omar last month when she suggested that members of U.S. Congress support Israel for financial gain.
Several Jewish leaders denounced her remarks as reviving old stereotypes about Jews, money and power.
She quickly apologized, saying, “Anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes.”
— With files from the Associated Press