Rep. Ilhan Omar isn’t known as a woman who is bashful about expressing her opinions on any number of subjects. She is one of only two Muslim women serving in the House of Representatives. As a member of such a small minority, it is only normal that she gets questions about her beliefs, especially at a conference for Muslims. Why then did she snap when she was asked about the practice of female genital mutilation?
Rep Omar was a member of a panel discussion during the Muslim Caucus Education Collective’s 2019 Conference Tuesday. Moderator Ani Zonneveld, President of Muslims for Progressive Values, asked Omar a very simple question – does she condemn the practice of female genital mutilation? It’s a basic yes or no question. As a Muslim woman who practices her religion, including wearing a headscarf which presents her as a Muslim to the public, it wasn’t a big surprise. The surprise was her response to the question.
Omar can be described with a lot of ‘firsts’ – she is the first Somali-American member of the House of Representatives as well as the first naturalized citizen from Africa, the first non-white woman elected from Minnesota, and one of the first two Muslim women to serve in Congress. In other words, she holds a unique spot right now as an elected official. I assume she was asked to be a member of the panel because of her position as a lawmaker.
Who better to address such a controversial subject than a Muslim woman who is also a lawmaker? Her platform is amplified by the national exposure she receives in the press due to her far-left political ideology. It should not be a surprise that she is asked about some practices that cause headlines in the news. Female genital mutilation is one of those practices. In this case, though, instead of taking the opportunity to express her opinion and the reason why she holds that opinion, she shut the discussion down. She called the question an “appalling” one.
After calling her question “appalling,” Omar continued by expressing frustration that she is repeatedly asked to condemn different groups and practices, saying, “Should I make a schedule? Like, 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 [female genital mutilation], so here it goes. Today I forgot to condemn Hamas, so here it goes.’ It is a very frustrating question that comes up. You can look up my record. I’ve voted for bills doing exactly what you are asking me to do.”
Omar continued to assert that she and fellow freshman congresswoman Rep. Rashida Tlaib, as well as other Muslim lawmakers, were often asked the same questions repeatedly. She said, “I am, I think, quite disgusted 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 because the assumption exists that we somehow support and are for, right? No, there is an assumption. So I want to make sure the next time someone is in an audience and is looking at me and Rashida, and Abdul and Sam, that they ask us the proper questions they will probably ask any member of Congress or any legislator.”
To state the obvious, she’s asked about practices of the Muslim religion because she is a member of that community. She is asked about groups and organizations because they identify as Muslim groups and organizations. It is only normal to be curious about her opinions. The question about female genital mutilation seems like a completely normal one for a female lawmaker who is Muslim. She then turned her anger toward the female moderator, chiding her for her question and saying she was wrong to bring up “an accusation that we might support something that is so abhorrent, so offensive, so evil, so vile.”
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) explodes at an audience member who asked her if she could condemn female genital mutilation
Omar responds by saying the question is “appalling” and she is “disgusted” to be asked if she condemns “al-Qaeda,” “FGM,” and “Hamas,” saying it’s a “waste” of time pic.twitter.com/9Ipl55wig9
— Molly Prince (@mollyfprince) July 23, 2019
She only wants “the proper” questions, you see. She is voicing her frustration that she and Rep. Tlaib are asked questions that other lawmakers are not asked. Again, that is because the other lawmakers are not Muslims. These questions come with the territory. She and the Democrats in the House proudly tout their diversity yet when a member of that diverse membership is asked routine questions, she lashes out at the questioner. That’s not very progressive, is it?
It’s understandable that she’s frustrated with answering the same questions over and over again. That’s too bad, though. I’d venture to say that any lawmaker of either party can voice the same frustration with any number of questions. Think about pro-life candidates being questioned about their beliefs. Think about Christian lawmakers being questioned about religious freedom and the laws on the books. Think about every congressional hearing for a Supreme Court nominee. Questions, frequent or not, are a part of the job.
Instead of condemning the practice of female genital mutilation, if she does, she chose to attack the moderator for asking the question. The question was left dangling in the air. Omar references legislation in her answer on which she is a co-sponsor but she didn’t explain the legislation. In other words, she refused to answer the question. Maybe she would stop getting the question if she simply explained her position, more than once if necessary. By not answering, the implication is that she supports the practice. I noted it in my own Twitter response.
So that’s a no? https://t.co/nLB9MWrlTw
— Karen Townsend (@penguinponders) July 23, 2019
You can follow me on Twitter at @penguinponders. I’d appreciate that.
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