Republican lawmaker apologises for calling Muslim MP ‘jihad squad’ member 

Ilhan Omar says describing her as ‘a suicide bomber is no laughing matter’


Reuters November 27, 2021
US Rep Lauren Boebert (R-CO), flanked by other members of the House Freedom Caucus, speaks during a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., July 29, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON:

Republican Representative Lauren Boebert, a loyal supporter of former US President Donald Trump, apologised on Friday after suggesting that a liberal Democratic colleague, Representative Ilhan Omar, had been part of a "jihad squad" on Capitol Hill.

"I apologize to anyone in the Muslim community I offended with my comment about Rep Omar. I have reached out to her office to speak with her directly. There are plenty of policy differences to focus on without this unnecessary distraction," Boebert said on Twitter.

Her apology came after a video surfaced on Twitter of her speaking at an event in her home state of Colorado where she said she was getting into an elevator at the Capitol when she saw a Capitol police officer running toward her.

"I see fret all over his face, and he’s reaching, and the door’s shutting, like I can’t open it, like what’s happening. I look to my left, and there she is. Ilhan Omar. And I said, ‘Well, she doesn’t have a backpack, we should be fine,'" she said.

She said it was "not my first 'jihad squad' moment".

Boebert is part of a group of Republican House lawmakers who say they are staunch supporters of Trump, and who frequently attack their own Congress colleagues with slurs and insults. She is in her first term in office.

Omar said on Twitter the event described by Boebert in the video never happened, and that "Anti-Muslim bigotry isn’t funny & shouldn’t be normalised".

"Saying I am a suicide bomber is no laughing matter," Omar tweeted. She called on House Republican leader Kevin McCarty and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to take "appropriate action".

In a statement, Pelosi and other senior Democratic leaders of the House said Boebert's "repeated, ongoing and targeted Islamophobic comments and actions against another member of Congress, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, are both deeply offensive and concerning".

"Leader McCarthy and the entire House Republican leadership's repeated failure to condemn inflammatory and bigoted rhetoric from members of their conference is outrageous," they said. "We call on the Republican leadership to address this priority with the congresswoman and to finally take real action to confront racism."

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