The recent Islamophobic remarks made by a notorious Republican Congress member against a Democratic House colleague is fast snowballing into a major political controversy in the US.
The US House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on Tuesday called on GOP leaders to discipline Lauren Boebert, a House representative from Colorado, for her hate-filled comments against Ilhan Omar, a representative for Minnesota's 5th congressional district.
Hoyer said Boebert's suggestion that Omar poses a dangerous threat fits a larger "pattern" of racist demagoguery within the Republican ranks, urging the Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to rein in such rhetoric that could inspire acts of violence, particularly against minorities.
"It's a pattern, and so that makes it even more concerning. It's particularly concerning because it inflames ... the passions of people who then convert words into dangerous, threatening and harmful actions. And that's why this conduct is so reprehensible and dangerous," Hoyer said on a press call.
“Hopefully, the Republican Party and its leadership itself would take direct action to cleanse itself from this toxic kind of conduct that its members are pursuing,” he hastened to add.
He further said that Boebert's comments "should be sanctioned, not only by the Republican leadership, but by Republicans in general and by the American people”.
Boebert stirred a controversy recently when a video leaked of her telling a crowd in her district that a ride in an elevator with Omar "should be fine" because Omar "doesn't have a backpack."
In the viral video, shared by a Twitter account called PatriotTakes, Boebert recounted her encounter with Omar at the US Capitol, referring to Omar as a member of the "Jihad Squad" and claimed that a Capitol Police officer thought she was a terrorist.
“So the other night on the House floor was not my first jihad squad moment. So I was getting into an elevator with one of my staffers. And he and I are - we’re leaving the Capitol. We're going back to my office and we get in the elevator, and I see a Capitol Police officer running hurriedly to the elevator,” Boebert said in the video.
“I see fret all over his face, and he's reaching… The door’s shutting, like I can’t - I can’t open it - like, what's happening? I look to my left, and there she is. Ilhan Omar. I said, ‘Well she doesn't have a backpack, we should be fine,’” she added, with audience heard laughing over it.
The Minnesota Representative dismissed the story as fiction, calling her a “buffoon”.
“Fact, this buffoon looks down when she sees me at the Capitol, this whole story is made up. Sad she thinks bigotry gets her clout,” Omar said on Twitter.
She said anti-Muslim bigotry “isn’t funny and shouldn’t be normalized”, adding that the Congress “can’t be a place where hateful and dangerous Muslims tropes get no condemnation”
Fact, this buffoon looks down when she sees me at the Capitol, this whole story is made up. Sad she thinks bigotry gets her clout.— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) November 26, 2021
Anti-Muslim bigotry isn’t funny & shouldn’t be normalized. Congress can’t be a place where hateful and dangerous Muslims tropes get no condemnation. https://t.co/S1APT7RbqW
The two warring lawmakers spoke over phone on Monday, which ended with both of them accusing the other of incivility.
Omar claimed in a statement that Boebert "doubled down on her hurtful and dangerous comments," which led her to "end the unproductive call."
Hoyer on Tuesday said that McCarthy had called him to facilitate the call, but after talking to Omar, Hoyer had advised against it.
Hoyer went on to say that there appears to be a financial incentive for lawmakers to invoke racist or violent imagery — a strategy which he said "raises them money because it's confrontational and demeaning to others”.
"It's sad that that raises them money, but I think that's what their MO apparently appears to be."
The three Muslim Democratic lawmakers — Omar and Representatives Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and André Carson of Indiana, have said that their party is looking at options to sanction Boebert.
Saying I am a suicide bomber is no laughing matter. @GOPLeader and @SpeakerPelosi need to take appropriate action, normalizing this bigotry not only endangers my life but the lives of all Muslims. Anti-Muslim bigotry has no place in Congress. https://t.co/A0VxI3uTmH pic.twitter.com/QTmqaGaZrM— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) November 26, 2021
“Muslims in this country are proud Americans, hard-working members of our community,” Carson said. “And we are not anyone’s scapegoat.”
In her statement on Monday, Omar demanded McCarthy "actually hold his party accountable" for "repeated instances of anti-Muslim hate and harassment."