Ilhan Omar hits back at 'appalling question' asking her to condemn FGM

Ilhan Omar hits back at 'appalling question' asking her to condemn FGM
3 min read
24 July, 2019
Democratic congresswoman Ilhan Omar rebuked an audience member who asked her to condemn FGM, saying she is 'disgusted' that only Muslim legislators are asked certain questions.
Ilhan Omar participated in a panel during the Muslim Collective For Equitable Democracy Conference [Getty]
Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar sharply pushed back against an audience member's question asking her to condemn female genital mutilation (FGM) on Tuesday.

Describing it as "appalling", Omar said: "Should I make a schedule? Does this need to be on repeat every five minutes?"

"Should I be like, so today I forgot to condemn Al-Qaeda, so here's the Al-Qaeda one. Today I forgot to condemn FGM, so here it goes."

The congresswoman pointed to numerous anti-FGM bills she voted for in response to the question from Ani Zonneveld, founder of Muslims for Progressive Values, at a Washington conference for Muslim Americans in politics.

Zonneveld asked Omar and fellow congresswoman Rashida Tliab to make a statement against FGM as "two Muslim congresswomen".

Omar, the first Somali-American legislator in the US, noted the "assumption" behind the question is that Muslims "somehow support" FGM.

"I am quite disgusted, really, to be honest, that as Muslim legislators we are constantly being asked to waste our time speaking to issues that other people are not asked to speak to," the Minnesota lawmaker said.

Omar's response was met by applause from more than a 100 attendees at Tuesday's panel on which she sat with fellow Muslim politicans Abdul el-Sayed and Sam Rasoul.

"So I want to make sure that the next time someone is in an audience and is looking at me, and Rashida and Abdul and Sam, that they asked us the proper questions that they will probably ask any member of Congress," Omar added.

"And would not come with an accusation that we might support something that is so abhorrent, so offensive, so evil, so vile."

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This comes a week after Omar said she would not "dignify" President Donald Trump's false accusation that she supports al-Qaeda with a response.

Trump fired the accusations in his attack on four congresswomen of colour, nicknamed "The Squad" last week, in which he told them to "go back" to their home countries.

The president's fresh attack on Omar, linking the congresswoman to extremist group Al-Qaeda, was met with an uproarious response from the crowd: "Send her back! Send her back!"

Omar has faced extreme pressure after criticising Israel's influence in US politics and said she has even faced death threats after President Donald Trump tweeted out a video of her spliced with footage of the 9/11 attacks.

Omar made headlines earlier this year after she tweeted about the influence of pro-Israel lobby AIPAC, that some felt echoed an anti-Semitic trope that Jewish influence in politics is money-related.

One of the first Muslim women to enter congress, she also sparked uproar at a Washington event in March when she again criticized the "powerful" pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC, and US lawmakers who fiercely support the Jewish state.

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