The US president has launched repeated attacks on the Somali-American congresswoman and his Republican base seems to be backing him.
In a dramatic escalation of the ongoing spat between US President Donald Trump and a group of ethnic minority Democrat congresswomen, the Republican leader launched a scathing attack on Somali-American lawmaker Ilhan Omar as his rally supporters chanted “send her back”.
The incident at a rally in North Carolina follows a racist attack by Trump on the quartet, in which he told them to ‘go back’ to their countries of origin instead of criticising his policies.
Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Ayanna Pressley are all US citizens and with the exception of Omar, who was naturalised at 17 after arriving as a refugee, are all US born.
The US House of Representatives, the lower house of the US Congress, condemned Trump’s attacks as racist but that has not stopped the Republican leader and his colleagues and supporters from doubling down on the attacks.
At the North California rally, Trump described the four as “hate-filled extremists” and singling out Omar, accused her of hating working people.
Crowds jeered and began chants of “send her back” as Trump looked on approvingly.
Omar, who campaigns for progressive causes in Congress, backs higher taxes on corporations to fund social services, such as healthcare and tuition in colleges.
The most recent attacks on her sparked a strong response on social media.
#IStandWithIlhan and am proud to work with her in Congress.— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) July 18, 2019
Trump is stoking the most despicable and disturbing currents in our society. And that very hatred and racism fuels him. We must fight together to defeat the most dangerous president in the history of our country.
Activist Shaun King described the rally as “one of the single most racist moments in modern American political history”.
Omar herself responded by quoting from the African-American writer Maya Angelou.
“You may shoot me with your words, You may cut me with your eyes, You may kill me with your hatefulness, But still, like air, I’ll rise,” she wrote on Twitter.
The Muslim American lawmaker arrived in the US aged 14 after fleeing war in her native Somalia and living in a Kenyan refugee camp. Her political career began by translating for her grandfather at community gatherings.
For many, her rise from refugee to Congresswoman represents the American dream but not so for many Republicans, including Trump.
Ilhan Omar co-sponsored the 9/11 victims compensation bill, and Rand Paul blocked it in the senate. Which one am I supposed to believe is the patriotic one? #IStandWithIlhan— anyangel (@dancingonapin) July 18, 2019