U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., fresh from defending her outspoken approach as a new member of Congress on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” faced criticism Thursday on the cover of Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post, with an image of the twin towers burning in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Some Omar allies immediately accused the newspaper of “inciting more fear and hatred” — a day after Omar took to Twitter to voice concerns about her personal safety after an earlier attack on Fox News.
The new controversy follows a speech Omar delivered on March 23 at a banquet for the Los Angeles chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Omar, the first Somali-American member of Congress, was discussing how Muslims are often unfairly implicated in the actions of terrorists.
“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 said. (CAIR was actually founded in 1994, though it did increase its civil rights work after the 2001 attacks.)
It was Omar’s phrasing about 9/11 — “some people did something” — that prompted fierce blowback from critics. The New York Post cover includes an image of the World Trade Center towers under attack, calls out Omar by name and reads: “Here’s your something. 2,977 people dead by terrorism.”
Some Democrats denounced the Post’s front page. Waleed Shahid, communications director for the Justice Democrats PAC, called it “disgusting and dangerous” in a tweet on Thursday. He added that it could incite “more fear and hatred.”
On the Fox News program “Fox and Friends” on Wednesday, host Brian Kilmeade said of Omar: “You have to wonder if she’s an American first.” Fox News is owned by the same parent company as the Post.
Omar declined an interview request for this story. On Wednesday, she tweeted a response to Kilmeade’s comment:
“This is dangerous incitement, given the death threats I face. I hope leaders of both parties will join me in condemning it. My love and commitment to our country and that of my colleagues should never be in question. We are ALL Americans.”
In an appearance on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” on Wednesday night, Omar added: “I took an oath. I am as American as anyone else is.”
Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice reported that it had arrested and charged Patrick Carlineo of Addison, N.Y., with threatening to assault and murder a U.S. official after he said in a telephone call to a member of her staff that he was going to shoot Omar.
The Minnesota Republican Party joined in the criticism against Omar for the comment about 9/11.
“As an American, I am horrified this came from a Member of Congress,” Party Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan said in a statement. “When will the Minnesota DFL and the national Democrats denounce Omar and say enough is enough?”
Some Democratic colleagues came to Omar’s defense.
“Hey, @foxandfriends, disagree with Rep. @IlhanMN, but do not question her patriotism,” U.S. Sen. Tina Smith, a Democrat, tweeted on Wednesday. “It’s dangerous, not only to my colleague, but also to my Constitution.”
Omar was subject to bipartisan condemnation in March following several comments about Israel that were widely criticized as anti-Semitic. The House passed a resolution condemning bigotry in response.