Pressure mounted on Thursday on US congresswoman Ilhan Omar as a Jewish group of fellow Democratic lawmakers called on her to clarify her remarks about "unthinkable atrocities" committed by the United States, Hamas and the Taliban.
Omar, one of the first two Muslim women elected to the US Congress, has antagonised or offended members of her Democratic Party in the past with comments that have been decried as anti-Semitic or anti-Israel.
Her latest remarks led to a rare public letter of disapproval from 12 House Democrats, who wrote that "equating the United States and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban is as offensive as it is misguided".
"The United States and Israel are imperfect and, like all democracies, at times deserving of critique, but false equivalencies give cover to terrorist groups," wrote the group, led by Brad Schneider of Illinois.
"We urge Congresswoman Omar to clarify her words."
At a Monday House hearing Omar had grilled Secretary of State Antony Blinken over accountability for victims of crimes against humanity.
She then followed up with a tweet that read: "We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the US, Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban."
In their letter the Jewish lawmakers said Omar's comments equating actions by a rule-of-law nation and those of organisations that "engage in terrorism" potentially "reflects deep-seated prejudice".
Omar, who was born in Somalia and immigrated as a refugee in the mid-1990s, pushed back Thursday.
"The Islamophobic tropes in this statement are offensive," she tweeted. "The constant harassment & silencing from the signers of this letter is unbearable."
It’s shameful for colleagues who call me when they need my support to now put out a statement asking for “clarification” and not just call.— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) June 10, 2021
The islamophobic tropes in this statement are offensive. The constant harassment & silencing from the signers of this letter is unbearable. https://t.co/37dy2UduW0
Omar also said her earlier remarks were related to an open case against Israel, the United States, Hamas and the Taliban in the International Criminal Court.
Omar received support from the other Muslim woman in Congress, Rashida Tlaib, who said she was tired of colleagues "demonising" Omar.
"Their obsession with policing her is sick," Tlaib said.
Omar said she has recently received death threats, and on Thursday posted audio of a man threatening her staff and saying "Muslims are terrorists".
TW: Every time I speak out on human rights I am inundated with death threats. Here is one we just got.— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) June 10, 2021
“Muslims are terrorists. And she is a raghead n*****. And every anti-American communist piece of s*** that works for her, I hope you get what’s f***ing coming for you.” pic.twitter.com/Kid7qUgZDZ
This is incited directly by articles like this and far right politicians like this.— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) June 10, 2021
And it is enabled by a political culture—in both parties—that allows and often fuels Islamophobia. pic.twitter.com/93ixmVCmMx