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Tuesday, November 29, 2022

The House of Representatives debates ‘Islamophobia,’ and one Muslim lawmaker comes under fire

House efforts to pass a bill to combat anti-Muslim bigotry were derailed by accusations of antisemitism and harbouring terrorist sympathies against the bill’s co-sponsor, Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who was accused by a right-wing Republican from Pennsylvania of harbouring terrorist sympathies and being an antisemite.

House Freedom Caucus leader Scott Perry, who will take over as the next head of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus, attacked the legislation, which would establish a new special envoy post in the State Department to fight “Islamophobia and Islamophobic incitement.” His toughest remarks, though, were directed at Representative Ilhan Omar, one of only two Muslim women in the House and a co-author of the legislation.

In his statement, Mr. Perry stated that “American taxpayers should not be forced to pay terrorist organisations, organisations with which the author of this bill has affiliations, such as the one that is an unindicted co-conspirator in what may be the largest terror finance case in the history of the United States of America.”

A confused allusion was made to a case brought more than a decade ago against the Holy Land Foundation, an Islamic organisation that was found guilty in 2008 of aiding Islamic extremist groups. The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a human rights organisation, was identified as one of over 250 organisations and people who were accused of conspiring with the terrorist organisation.

According to the federal government at the time, the groups on the list had been included in order to gather evidence for the trial. However, the district court and a federal appeals court found that making the list public was a mistake. Ms. Omar was recognised by the council, which is fashioned after the Anti-Defamation League, a decade after she delivered a lecture to the organization’s California branch.

Mr. Perry did not divulge any of this information to anybody. Immediately after the argument, Representative Debbie Dingell, Democrat of Michigan and an ally of Ms. Omar, sought to delete Mr. Perry’s statements from the official record of the proceedings, thereby bringing the House floor to a screeching stop. As a result, Mr. Perry was forbidden from addressing publicly again on Tuesday evening. The law was approved late Tuesday night, 219 to 212, despite the fact that it was a bipartisan effort.

The kerfuffle demonstrated the chasm that exists between the two political parties, even as House Democratic leaders attempt to defuse the volatile topic of racism. The anti-Muslim prejudice bill was introduced to the House of Representatives four weeks after a video of Representative Lauren Boebert, a Republican from Colorado, was released in which she suggested that Ms. Omar may have been a suicide bomber and referred to her as a member of the “jihad squad.”

Several Democrats wished for their leaders to penalise Ms. Boebert by removing her from her committee responsibilities, but the leaders decided against doing so. They’d already done it to two other Republicans this year, Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona, and they’d planned to do it to a third. Speaker Nancy Pelosi of the California House of Representatives said that additional action against Ms. Boebert may be pursued.

Pelosi expressed her hope that the House will “come together in a spirit of unity” on the anti-Islamophobia legislation on Tuesday night, according to CNN. What happened instead, according to her, was a “assault on the religious beliefs of one of our members.”

As a result, House Republican leaders decried the legislation, claiming it would create a “redundant office” within the State Department, and that because the term “Islamophobia” was not clearly defined, they speculated that the new office could be used to police Israel’s efforts to counter Islamist organisations such as Hamas.

The Kentucky Republican Representative Andy Barr dubbed it “a wolf in sheep’s clothes,” and he was right.

Chris Matthews
I am a Political News Journalist of The National Era
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