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US: Outrage after Republican lawmaker calls Ilhan Omar 'jihad squad' member

Omar, one of the first Muslim women in Congress, has faced a deluge of Islamophobic attacks since entering politics
In response to Boebert's comments, Ilhan Omar said "I am grateful I was raised to be a decent human".
In response to Boebert's comments, Ilhan Omar said, "I am grateful I was raised to be a decent human" (AFP)

A US Congresswoman is facing a deluge of criticism after referring to fellow lawmaker Ilhan Omar as part of a "jihad squad" during a House floor debate.

Lauren Boebert made the comments on Wednesday during a debate over whether another member of Congress, Republican Paul Gosar, should be censured for posting an anime clip depicting Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez being killed.

The Republican congresswoman said that Omar was "the Jihad Squad member from Minnesota with a brother-husband".

"This member is allowed on the Foreign Affairs Committee while praising terrorists," she added. Boebert, a staunchly right-wing congresswoman, previously called Omar an "honorary member of Hamas".

In addition, Boebert accused Democratic California Congressman Eric Swalwell of sleeping with the enemy, referencing an alleged affair with a suspected Chinese spy.

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The condemnation of Boebert's remarks was immediate, with several other politicians calling her words racist and amounting to hate speech.

"While she's insulting her colleagues and blowing racist dog whistles, folks in her district are struggling to get by," said Donald Valdez, a Democrat who is running to unseat Boebert in Colorado's 3rd congressional district.

In response to her comments, former congressman Bakari Sellers asked on Twitter: "How is @laurenboebert a member of Congress?" 

Omar herself responded to the comments, saying: "I am grateful I was raised to be a decent human and not a deprived person who shamefully defecates & defiles the House of Representatives."

Islamophobic attacks

Omar, alongside Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, is one of the first two Muslim women elected to the US Congress.

Since entering the House, both she and Tlaib have faced Islamophobic attacks from far-right media outlets and Republican politicians, including former President Donald Trump.

She has said she also faced numerous death threats, with a supporter of the former president making a threat on her life in 2019.

The lawmaker's critical remarks about Israel and also US foreign policy have been the subject of outrage from both Republicans and Democrats.

Earlier this year, she had called for accountability for victims of alleged war crimes in Afghanistan and the occupied Palestinian territories. In response, 12 Democratic legislators, including chairs of powerful committees, released a statement condemning Omar.

Sam Haselby, a historian and senior editor at Aeon Magazine, noted that the amount of attacks Omar faces from Republicans does not reflect her popularity in her district, where she received 65 percent of the vote in her last re-election.