Donald Trump said Ilhan Omar is ‘pro al-Qaida’ — she’s said nothing of the sort
First, U.S. President Donald Trump issued a series of tweets on Sunday saying that a group of Democratic congresswoman could “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came.”
He mentioned no names, but it was clear he was talking about a group of congresswomen who held a press conference Monday: Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib and Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley.
WATCH: Trump accuses Omar of hating Jews while defending tweets against congresswomen
On that same day, the president doubled down on his weekend tweets and reserved particular attention for Omar.
“I look at Omar, I don’t know, I’ve never met her. I hear the way she’s talked about al-Qaida. Al-Qaida has killed many Americans, she said you could ‘hold your chest out,'” Trump said.
“When she talked about the World Trade Center being knocked down, ‘some people,’ you remember, the famous ‘some people.’ These are people who in my opinion hate our country.”
He also issued a series of tweets, emphasizing his previous comments.
In Monday’s news conference, Omar, who was born in Somalia, said she did not want to dignify Trump’s remark about going back where they came from.
“I know that every single Muslim who has lived in this country, across the world, has heard that comment,” she said.
“So I will not dignify it with an answer because I know that every single Islamophobe, every single person who is hateful, who is driven by an ideology of othering, as this president is, rejoices in us responding to that, and as defending ourselves.”
WATCH: (April 15) Supporters of Ilhan Omar protest Trump tweet with pro-Trump demonstrators nearby
Nevertheless, Trump’s claim about how Omar has “talked about al-Qaida” invites closer scrutiny of what she actually said.
Omar never said “hold your chest out” while talking about al-Qaida, as Trump asserted.
The claim originates with a 2013 interview that Omar did with BelAhdan, a PBS show that focuses on Minnesota’s Middle Eastern community.
Omar and host Ahmed Tharwat were talking about the names of terrorist groups such as al-Qaida, al-Shabaab and Hezbollah, and how they tend to be emphasized in Arabic instead of being translated.
Omar said, “that is a product of the sensationalized media. You have these sound bites, and you have these words and everybody says it with such an intensity, so it must mean, it must hold a bigger meaning.”
She then talked about a terrorism professor from college, who she said would add extra emphasis any time he said the names of certain terrorist groups.
“The thing that was interesting in this class, was every time the professor said al-Qaida, his shoulders went up and said al-Qaida, Hezbollah,” she said, laughing as she described his mannerisms.
“You don’t say America with an intensity, you don’t say England with an intensity, but you say these names because you want that word to carry wight, you want it to leave something.”
Omar’s remarks were cut out of the interview and circulated on conservative websites — the very clip circulated again on Twitter Monday, with a user saying, “here’s the clip that Trump is referencing with Democrat Rep. Ilhan Omar (MN) where she laughs while talking about ISIS and al-Qaida — Islamic terror groups that kill Americans, U.S. allies, and Jews.”
WATCH: (April 12) Trump tweets video suggesting Rep. Ilhan Omar was dismissive of 9-11
Omar did not mention ISIS in that clip — ISIS is an abbreviation of the English name, “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.”
Daesh is ISIS’ Arabic acronym.
Trump’s remark about “some people” originates with Omar’s speech to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) earlier this year.
At that event, she said of Muslims that “for far too long we have lived with the discomfort of being a second-class citizen. Frankly, I’m tired of it. And every single Muslim in this country should be tired of it.
“CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.”
Omar’s remarks were cut out into a video that circulated on social media. Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade questioned Omar’s loyalty to her country, saying, “you have to wonder if she’s an American first,” as noted by The Atlantic.
Republican Congressman Dan Crenshaw described her as the “first member of Congress to ever describe terrorists who killed thousands of Americans on 9/11 as ‘some people who did something.'”
Trump tweeted a video of her remarks himself, but it didn’t contain the full context of what she said.
In response, Omar tweeted that she has an “unwavering love” for the U.S.A.
In the Monday news conference, Omar, Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley and Tlaib said Trump’s Twitter attack is a distraction.
Omar tweeted similar rhetoric the same day, re-tweeting a quote from author Toni Morrison.
“The function, the very serious function of racism is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being.”
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