Omar’s story was first told to Muslim advocacy group CAIR in early November, sparking a backlash against the representative, as many raised concerns about her views and complained that she had not set out to address them properly.
“I was shocked. She is not politically correct. She shows many Muslims a negative image. People don’t know everything about her,” the Kansas governor told the New York Times.
And while she remained defiant, telling CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, “My story has been confirmed by law enforcement and FBI. There was a DC Mosque where the FBI had raided,” it was unclear how Omar knew to write her own story to dispel negative speculation, given how little detail was given about how the raid took place and whether or not it took place in the United States.
Omar wrote a similar letter last week telling supporters “this letter may not be as genuine as my public statements [and] my rhetoric can be volatile, and my words can hurt,” but her fans were in no doubt about which version was true and were quick to jump to her defense.
ABC News’ Jon Levine noted that Omar took part in two public forums for radicalisation prevention — an Obama-era programme called REAL-SAFE — which was first reported to be in place in Arkansas but “ends up being just one of many initiatives for Muslim communities, often at the national level.”
She also “was involved in a temporary cleaning service for individuals for some time. And she took some remedial English classes at a community college in college.”
Indeed, she served as an aide to a single mother until her work-study duties forced the 36-year-old to leave the program, and she told the Des Moines Register in December she had been studying to become a nurse but “had to pull out of school because of school work.”
Still, others pointed out that there was, unfortunately, a disproportionate level of violence against Muslims in the news when the Kansas congressman wrote about the raid in the first place.
Following the Atlantic article, Dr. Irfan Siddiqui, Associate Professor of Islam and Society at The University of Edinburgh, observed, “It was in fact the #MuslimBurka video and the CEO’s use of anti-Muslim rhetoric to win votes that was the source of Omar’s backlash. Do we expect the congresswoman to atone for those issues rather than deflect blame on their single origin?”
Boebert refused to back down from her allegations, prompting political allies to speak out against her.
Rally to defend Omar
Following a proposal on to the Floor of the House of Representatives to censure Omar, Congressional Muslim Caucus Co-Chairwoman Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) addressed the issue during a speech on the House floor.
“Some have asked whether it is anti-Muslim to speak out. The Quran states plainly that I must speak against injustice against my fellow human beings,” she said. “Do we want a congressperson who will not only comment against hate and intolerance, but who will also confront anti-Muslim bigotry? I am that congressperson.”
She went on to point out that the press has been on to her for a while, with ABC News referring to her as “one of the harshest critics of Islam” in a recent article.
“The road I have traveled in advocating for marginalized communities, is one of constant backlash and deflection,” she continued. “I am determined to fight for the American Dream, while protecting those who believe it. I will not be silenced, and I will not compromise my principles. I have done all I can to address these issues in public, but that will not stop the falsehoods, attacks and conspiracy theories.”
And following a 12-hour sit-in by representatives from all sides of the aisle, Omar called for hearings to be held on “advocacy that threatens the health, safety and security of the American people.”
A former law student and legal assistant in Iowa, it comes as no surprise that Omar is confident to tackle the misinformation with vigour.
Dr Suleman Ahmed, CAIR-Oregon Southeast Regional Director, recently told the Des Moines Register about his own experiences in politics, “It scares me because I don’t have all the answers. Omar also has been that way. She puts things out there that no one was able to talk about before. That’s one of the greatest strengths she has.”
Dr Ahmed’s sentiments echo with Omar’s own commitment to ensuring that the “American dream” is preserved for everyone.