I was eleven years old and did not know that our land was being attacked until I heard the rocks banging on the window of our classroom. I was in mathematics and kids were throwing stones at our Islamic school in New Jersey. The Headmaster sat on the intercom and announced that the school had been released for the day and that all students had to evacuate the building.
Before I even saw the black smoke column from Lower Manhattan, I knew that as an American Muslim, I would be asked to choose between these two identities. I am now 29 years old and my religious identity is still being used by bigoted politicians and politicians who are putting me on the side of the terrorists who attacked us all that day.
I can not say that I am surprised that Rep. Ilhan Omar, the first hijab-clad congresswoman, was exposed to the same drawbacks. Last month, Republican Party West Virginia showed a poster claiming Omar proof that the Americans have forgotten 9/11. This week, the New York Post released an inflammatory cover that linked Omar to the terrorist attacks. And then, on Friday, Donald Trump tweeted one heinous propaganda video Omar words with pictures of the attacks
Trump would make his followers believe that he, the elite aristocrat who still boasted about his property during his Ground Zero, cares more about the suffering of people than a war refugee. And recent history suggests that Trump supporters will believe it. The Republican Party was only too willing to use Islamophobia, and the recent elections had some of the hateful campaigns that this country has ever seen. The fear of Muslims seems to be the glue that binds many supporters of the party. To fuel this fear has become a success strategy for the GOP.
This last round of attacks on Ilhan Omar was triggered by Republican Republican Dan Crenshaw recommended that Omar made September 11 easy in a recent speech. Forgive me for questioning Crenshaw's sincerity in criticizing Omar for calling terrorists "some people." (Her full comments are here.) Crenshaw was once an administrator for a Facebook group that called Islam "cancer." Texas Congressman ignored this as well Omar was a co-sponsor of a recently passed law aimed at compensating first-responders because they continued to suffer ten years after 9/11. He and Trump also do not seem to care that they are ruining Omar because she has been exposed to credible threats to her life in recent weeks. Christopher Hasson, who was discovered in February with his arrest in a huge weapons depot, added Omar to his hit list. Searches on Hasson's computer included: "Civil War When Trump Is Charged."
After September 11, my congregation wanted to show that the attacks would not split us. American flags were distributed at my mosque and prayers were recited for the Muslim and non-Muslim New Yorkers who lost their lives that day. Meanwhile, Donald Trump has focused on harnessing the horrors of the day to sow hatred and division. Trump had long ago claimed that "thousands" of Muslims cheered in Jersey City when the Twin Towers fell. Now he suggests to his followers that a Muslim American politician is not interested in terror victims and somehow responsible for the attacks themselves.
The attacks on Omar were consistent and insidious, and it's now more obvious than ever what they're based on on.
The attacks on Omar were consistent and insidious, and it's now more obvious than ever what they're based on. When Crenshaw and Trump connect them with 9/11 and the Fox News commentators ask if she is "first American" and claim that her hijab says she does not obey the US Constitution, the religious bigotry is clear , It is no longer possible to deny.
It is also depressingly familiar. But part of me hopes that this could mark a turning point in America's discourse on Islamophobia. Even while some party leaders Omar, democratic presidential candidates fail like Bernie Sanders, Beto O'Rourke, and Elizabeth Warren are directly and annoyed at the Islamophobic tropes of Trump and Crenshaw, especially the idea that Muslims secretly harbor intrusive, anti-American ideas. Anyone who does not acknowledge what these attacks mean to Omar either does not respect or believes that it is reasonable to use anti-Muslim rhetoric to gain political points. For all Americans, this should be a simple call: If you do not resist this kind of attack on Ilhan Omar, do not stand up for your country.
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