House

Omar: White supremacist attacks are rising because Trump publicly says 'Islam hates us'

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) said in a speech Saturday that white supremacist attacks like the one in New Zealand are on the rise because of President Trump's rhetoric. 

"We all kind of knew that this was happening," Omar said while speaking at a Muslim civil-rights banquet in Woodland Hills, Calif., according to The Los Angeles Times.

"But the reason I think that many of us knew that this was going to get worse is that we finally had a leader in the White House who publicly says Islam hates us, who fuels hate against Muslims, who thinks it is OK to speak about a faith and a whole community in a way that is dehumanizing, vilifying."

Trump said that he thinks "Islam hates us" in an interview with CNN during the 2016 presidential campaign.  

Omar added that Trump "doesn't understand or at least makes us want to think that he doesn't understand, the consequence that his words might have."

"Some people like me know that he understands the consequences," she continued. "He knows that there are people that he can influence to threaten our lives, to diminish our presence."

The Minnesota congresswoman's remarks came about a week after an Australian man opened fire at two mosques in Christchurch, killing 50 people and wounding several more. 

Trump has called the shooting "horrific." But some Democratic lawmakers, noting his past commentary on subjects such as Islam, have called for him to more forcefully denounce white supremacism.

Omar has drawn increased scrutiny in recent months for her comments about Israel, and her appearance at the Council on American-Islamic Relations dinner attracted a large contingent of protestors. 

The LA Times noted that hundreds of people gathered outside of the hotel where the event was taking place to voice their opposition to Omar's rhetoric. The Orange County Register reported that at least 1,000 people participated in the demonstration.

Demonstrators carried signs with Omar's  face covered by a swastika and the message, "Your hate makes us stronger."

"There are thoroughly fascinating people outside who for so many years have spoken about an Islam that is oppressive, an Islam that lessens and isolates its women, and today they gather outside to protest a Muslim woman who is in Congress," Omar said during her speech, the LA Times noted. "The irony in that is very entertaining to me."

Omar became the target of widespread criticism earlier this year after she said pro-Israel groups "push for allegiance to a foreign country," a remark that many viewed as signaling the anti-Semitic trope about dual loyalties. 

House Democrats responded to the comments by voting on a resolution that broadly condemned hate including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. Omar has since apologized for her comments, but has also contended that criticizing the U.S.'s relationship with Israel is not anti-Semitic.

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