Ilhan Omar’s 9/11 comments spark controversy


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Rep. Ilhan Omar speaks at a protest in Minnesota. Omar’s comments about 9/11 at CAIR’s annual event in California have sparked a widespread controversy.

On March 23, 2019 Representative Ilhan Omar gave a 20 minute speech at the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ (CAIR) annual event in California. The speech, which was given a week after the Christchurch mosque shootings, focused on discrimination against Muslim Americans. One comment Omar made about halfway through the speech became the subject of controversy.

“CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties,” Omar said.

Her phrase “some people did something”, referring to the terrorist attacks on 9/11, was the focus of many people accusing Omar of trivializing the attacks, including President Trump. Trump tweeted a graphic video of scenes of the 9/11 attacks with “some people did something” repeating numerous times throughout the 43 second video.

“She wasn’t trying to trivialize 9/11 or reduce its importance,” junior Yerim Kone said. “She was saying that there was a group of people that did one very bad thing, and as a result of that, an entire group of people has been oppressed, has been criminalized, has been discriminated against for that one act, and that that isn’t normal.”

The response to Omar’s speech has been varied. Republican Congressman Dan Crenshaw has called the comment “Unbelievable” and the New York Post published a cover stating “Here’s your something” with a picture of the burning Twin Towers. Meanwhile, Democratic Representative Jerrold Nadler said that Omar’s comments were “only in passing” and were part of the larger issue of her speech, Islamophobia. Mehdi Hasan has brought up the fact that the Islamophobic responses to her speech have only further proved her point.

“It seems from Trump’s comments that he thinks that all Muslims are Islamic terrorists, which they’re not,” sophomore Mia Smith said. “If he and other Republicans who think similarly can stop thinking that, then they can work with the Muslims who don’t like what the extremists are doing to bring about better conditions for Muslim Americans.”

Since the president’s tweet, Omar has experienced an increase in direct threats to her life. On Fox News Sunday on April 14, Chris Wallace asked Press Secretary Sarah Sanders if Trump was concerned about inciting any violence against Omar and the Muslim community, to which she responded that the president was simply calling Omar out for her 9/11 comment and “not trying to incite violence against anybody”.

It should also be noted that CAIR was actually founded in 1994, about seven years prior to 9/11, and that Omar is a cosponsor of H.R. 1327, which is a bill that is attempting to fully fund the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.

“I think that this issue is very one-sided,” senior Francisco de la Lama Aguirre said. “It seems like there’s no willing to debate over this, and that it’s closing the door for any debate or any possible solution.”