Controversial “squad” Congresswoman Ilhan Omar prompted a ferocious backlash after comments she made at an event in Minneapolis. The lawmaker said that Somalia was her top priority, with Islam in second place. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis demanded that Omar be stripped of her US citizenship and deported, while Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene called her a “terrorist sympathizer.”
Video emerged of the Democrat telling a Somali audience that their country would one day “go after our missing territories,” and “While I am in Congress, no one will take Somalia’s sea.” Commentators have suggested that the comments refer to the disputed land known as Somaliland, which Somalia and Ethiopia claim. Somaliland declares itself independent but is unrecognized internationally.
Somaliland’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Rhoda J Elmi, said he was “profoundly surprised” by Omar’s comments and described her language as “unbecoming of both the office she holds and the constituents she represents.” In response to online criticisms, Omar said these were “completely off.”
Rep. Omar, the first Somali Muslim in the US Congress, has a history of attracting criticism for perceived anti-America rhetoric. The GOP-controlled House of Representatives voted to remove her from the House Foreign Affairs Committee last year, mainly because of statements she had previously made about the US and Israel. Omar compared America and its Middle East ally to Islamic terrorist groups such as Hamas and the Taliban.
Lawmakers from both sides of the political divide condemned Omar for the comparison, but she later said that equating the US with the Taliban was not her intention. She claimed to be the victim of “Islamophobic tropes.”
One of only two Muslim women in Congress, Omar and fellow Democrat Rashida Tlaib have come under fire numerous times and been accused of holding antisemitic or anti-American views. Tlaib was condemned recently when she used the phrase “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” at a rally. The phrase is usually seen as advocating Israel’s destruction.