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Democratic Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib came to the defense of fellow freshman Democratic Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar on Thursday after she was accused of downplaying the Sept. 11 terror attacks that left nearly 3,000 Americans dead.
“They do this all the time to us, especially women of color. They do that. They take our words out of context because they’re afraid, because we speak truth. We speak truth to power,” Tlaib told NBC News.
“My sister Ilhan Omar, what she was talking about was up lifting people by supporting their civil liberties and civil rights,” Tlaib continued. “She has always, always condemned any kind of strategy, especially of a person that is directly impacted by being a refugee herself. She sees what terrorism can do. She sees what violence can do to a whole country, to a whole people.”
Omar delivered the keynote speech at a fundraiser for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) on March 23. A video from the event was uncovered weeks later where Omar was shown urging Muslim Americans to “raise hell” and “make people uncomfortable.” Omar faced massive backlash after a part of the speech surfaced where she described the Sept. 11 attacks as merely an event where “some people did something.”
Omar and Tlaib became America’s first Muslim congresswomen when sworn into office in January. Their time in office has been embroiled in allegations of anti-Semitism.
Tlaib invited a pro-Hezbollah, anti-Israel activist to her swearing-in ceremony and the following private dinner in January. Days later, an op-ed column she wrote in 2006 for Final Call, a Nation of Islam publication Louis Farrakhan founded, surfaced. She also has come under scrutiny for having ties to other anti-Israel individuals and for questioning the loyalty of Republican lawmakers who support the Jewish nation-state.
Omar has defended anti-Israeli statements, such as ones invoking Allah to expose Israel’s “evil doings,” and she is on record stating that Israel is not a democracy. She gave an interview to a host that referred to Israel as the “Jewish ISIS” and mocked how Americans speak about al-Qaeda and Hezbollah. Omar has also faced criticism from both sides of the aisle for promoting age-old anti-Semitic canards such as that Jews’ support of Israel is paid for and that they have a dual loyalty to the U.S. and Israel.
Omar and Tlaib both revealed in February that they would be fundraising with CAIR in the coming weeks; CAIR is a notable pro-Palestinian organization with ties to Islamic terror groups. The U.S. Department of Justice listed CAIR as an unindicted co-conspirator in funding millions of dollars to the terrorist organization Hamas. Additionally, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) named CAIR a terrorist organization along with al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in 2014.
“Taking it out of context, this is just pure racist act by many of those, hateful acts, by those because she does speak truth, when it talks about different issues that they don’t disagree with,” Tlaib said. “I’m really outraged.”