African-American women leaders gathered on Capitol Hill on 30 April in defence of Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, one of the first two Muslim congresswomen in history and the first member of Congress to wear a hijab. Omar has been the target of numerous right-wing attacks since taking office, including by President Donald Trump himself.
For the past few months, Omar has repeatedly come under fire for her comments criticizing America’s pro-Israel policies and the role of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in pushing US support for the occupation. She has also become a scapegoat for right-wing commentators who have sought to turn her into a symbol of left-wing anti-Semitism, at a time when white-nationalist violence against Jewish and Muslim places of worship is on the rise. Omar says death threats against her have spiked in number since President Trump tweeted a video juxtaposing her image with footage of the 9/11 attacks.
The protest came as a moment of Black women’s unity in the face of Islamophobic misogynoir, with speakers such as Representative Ayanna Pressley contextualizing the attacks on Omar as part of a long-standing pattern of silencing of Black women’s voices. Speaking at the event, Omar described the attacks on her in the broader context of white supremacy, including anti-Jewish violence like the attack on a synagogue in Poway, California, saying, “We collectively must make sure that we are dismantling all systems of oppression.”
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