(February 20, 2023 / JNS) Accusations of Islamophobia came almost immediately after the U.S. House of Representatives voted earlier this month to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from its Foreign Affairs Committee. The vote followed repeated promises from House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to remove the congresswoman due to her history of antisemitic and anti-Israel remarks.
Omar took to CNN’s State of the Union show, saying “it is politically motivated, and in some cases, motivated by the fact that many of these members don’t believe a Muslim refugee, an African, should even be in Congress, let alone have the opportunity to serve on the Foreign Affairs Committee.”
If the censure of Omar is Islamophobic, that would be news to several Muslim reform groups that work to combat radical Islamism and praised McCarthy’s decision to remove Omar from the committee.
Asra Q. Nomani, co-founder of the Muslim Reform Movement and a former professor at Georgetown University, told JNS that Omar is “a lieutenant in a dangerous network of leftists and anti-Israel Muslims that I call the ‘Woke Army.’ ”
That army weaponizes “the media, political institutions, the Democratic Party, the law and shame to silence critics and do everything in their power to realize the destruction of Israel,” said the Northern Virginia-based scholar. “Make no mistake about it, the Woke Army is rooted in a deep, ideological antisemitism, and so is Ilhan Omar’s campaign against Israel. They used character assassination to smear anyone who gets in their way with the allegation of Islamophobe.”
M. Zuhdi Jasser, a Phoenix-area physician and co-founder with Nomani of the Muslim Reform Movement, is also president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy. “As an American, and as a Muslim, I strongly believe that Rep. Ilhan Omar has no business whatsoever being on the House Foreign Affairs Committee,” Jasser told JNS. “There’s nothing more pro-Muslim than ensuring that prominent Muslims in sensitive positions be publicly vetted for loyalties to anti-American Islamist movements and their inherent ideologies.”
“Whether it is Omar’s deep-seated antisemitism or her shameless obsequiousness with global Islamists from the likes of Turkey’s [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan, Pakistan’s Imran Khan, Iran’s theocrats, Qatar’s royals or her unwavering support for the litany of Muslim Brotherhood legacy organizations,” said Jasser. “Omar is entangled with foreign movements that are anti-American.”
Among her comments, Omar accused Israel of having “hypnotized the world” and Jews of buying congressional control, infamously saying, “It’s all about the Benjamins.” The Minnesota lawmaker also called Israel an “apartheid state” and likened it to terrorist groups Taliban and Hamas.
Omar appeared alongside Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), who defended their colleague and dismissed accusations that Omar is antisemitic. (Schiff is Jewish.) McCarthy removed Schiff and Swalwell from the House Intelligence Committee, citing national security concerns.
Iraqi-born Dalia al-Aqidi, who launched an unsuccessful bid to unseat Omar in 2020, told JNS she was overjoyed when she heard Omar was off the committee. “I’ve been calling for her removal for the longest time,” she said.
An Iraqi native, who immigrated to the United States in 1993, al-Aqidi is a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy and a columnist for Arab News (Saudi Arabia).
“This is the same person who refused to vote in favor of recognizing the Turkish genocide of Armenians, yet was appalled at the killing of Qassem Soleimani,” said al-Aqidi, referring to the commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. “Just because someone criticizes her does not make that person islamophobic.”
‘Nowhere to be found’
Muslim reformers in other countries also supported Omar’s removal from the committee.
Raheel Raza, the Toronto-based president of the Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, has denounced Omar for using the term Islamophobia in a way that conflates criticism of radical Islamists with anti-Muslim bigotry.
“Omar blaming Islamophobia for her situation is a tactic that is used by Islamists as a victimhood narrative on a regular basis,” Raza told JNS. “When Omar was elected to the Foreign Relations Committee, she was given a position of respect and responsibility. But she chose to continue her hate-filled antics.”
Pakistani-Canadian author Tarek Fatah condemned Omar’s visit to Pakistan-dominated Kashmir and her relationship with Islamists, such as Imran Khan, Pakistan’s recently ousted prime minister.
“She has no place in the American democratic framework,” Fatah told JNS. “Make no mistake, she does not care about the lives of Muslims.”
After Omar visited Pakistan, she introduced a resolution condemning India for human-rights violations. Fatah criticized Omar for what he views as an anti-Hindu agenda and for covering up Pakistan’s human-rights violations against minority groups.
“When it comes to Islamist terrorism in Mozambique or the suicide bombing against the mosque in Peshawar that killed at least 100 people,” said Fatah. “Omar is nowhere to be found.”
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