Rep. Rashida Tlaib: Democrats' Reaction to Omar's Remarks Due to Islamophobia in the Party

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Posted: Mar 11, 2019 3:50 PM
Rep. Rashida Tlaib: Democrats' Reaction to Omar's Remarks Due to Islamophobia in the Party

Source: AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) told Showtime’s “The Circus” recently that there is Islamophobia in Congress including within her own party and it may be partly to blame for Democrats' reaction to freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar's (D-MN) comments which were widely interpreted as anti-Semitic.

"Why do you think people in your own party reacted so strongly against what [Omar] said?" Circus host Alex Wagner asked Tlaib in an interview that aired Sunday.

"You know, I'm trying to figure it out. It's just this past week, I feel, and I know this would be somewhat shocking for some, but I think Islamophobia is very much among the Democratic Party as well as the Republican Party," Tlaib told Wagner.

She pointed out that there have been only a few Muslim lawmakers in Congress. Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN) and Rep. Ilhan Omar along with Tlaib are the three currently serving.

“I know that's hard for people to hear, but there's only been four members of Congress that are of Muslim faith,” she emphasized. “Three of them currently serve in this institution."

"So you think Democrats have some Islamophobia and that's at the root of some of this consternation," Wagner asked.

"I think our country's struggling with it," Tlaib replied.

Last week, Democrats struggled over a resolution to condemn the remarks from Rep. Omar. Omar said there was “political influence in this country that says it is okay for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country,” in reference to Israel. Many of her fellow Democrats condemned these comments as a reference to an anti-Semitic “dual loyalty” trope.

Ultimately, the resolution condemning anti-Semitism never named Omar and passed by a vote of 407-23 Thursday evening. It "rejects the perpetuation of anti-Semitic stereotypes in the United States and around the world, including the pernicious myth of dual loyalty and foreign allegiance," and "condemns anti-Muslim discrimination and bigotry against all minorities as contrary to the values of the United States."

Tlaib was pleased by the mention of Islamophobia in the resolution and put out a statement with Omar and Carson praising the move.

“It’s the first time we have voted on a resolution condemning anti-Muslim bigotry in our nation’s history. Anti-Muslim crimes have increased 99% from 2014-2016 and are still on the rise,” they wrote. “We are tremendously proud to be part of a body that has put forth a condemnation of all forms of bigotry including anti-Semitism, racism, and white supremacy. At a time when extremism is on the rise, we must explicitly denounce religious intolerance of all kinds and acknowledge the pain felt by all communities. Our nation is having a difficult conversation and we believe this is great progress.”