Ilhan Omar’s full speech: Trump’s attacks on me target women, people of color & immigrants everywhere


Congresswoman Ilhan Omar PHOTO/CNN/Duck Duck Go

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar addressed a crowd of black women leaders from around the country in front of the Capitol building Tuesday at a rally in her defense, following a series of right-wing attacks against her. Death threats against Omar have spiked in recent months after President Trump tweeted a video juxtaposing her image with footage of the 9/11 attacks. Congresswoman Omar is one of the first two Muslim congresswomen in history and the first member of Congress to wear a hijab. She has repeatedly been accused of being anti-Semitic for criticizing the power of the Israeli lobby in Washington and questioning U.S.-Israeli relations. Despite the threats, she has refused to be silent, continuing to speak out against racism, Islamophobia, right-wing violence and anti-Semitism. Omar—who was born in Somalia and came to the United States as a refugee—said on Tuesday, “I’m a survivor of war. And if I survived militia, I certainly can survive these people.” We play her speech.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman. African-American women leaders gathered on Capitol Hill Tuesday in defense of Congressmember Ilhan Omar, one of the first two Muslim congresswomen in history, 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. 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. Congresswomen Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib, civil rights icon Angela Davis and others addressed the crowd Tuesday to urge Congress to censure President Trump—who they referred to simply as “the occupant of the White House”—for his attacks on Omar and to send a message to both political parties: “Hands off Ilhan Omar!”

This is Congressmember Ilhan Omar, Minnesota congressmember representing the 5th Congressional District, first Somali American elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, one of the first Muslim women in Congress.

REP. ILHAN OMAR: I’m a little emotional. Everyone knows that I refuse to cry. I talk about this all the time. I always say that nobody really deserves my tears or any of my sisters’ tears. But you all have moved me to tears with your love. And I am just grateful to all of you.

To one of my idols, Angela Davis, I just—yeah, I just—I can’t tell you how enormously inspiring you have been to me throughout my life. And the work that you have done in making us realize that we have to be internally liberated to fight for external liberation has been life-saving for people like me who had to navigate what it feels like to grow up black in this country. So, thank you.

To my sisters who give me strength in the Movement for Black Lives, I am forever grateful to all of you. To Nina, who always brings down the house—I heard your voice all the way from the Capitol. And I was like, “That’s probably Nina or Ayanna, one of them.”

And to my sisters, our squad—people are like, “You call yourselves a squad.” I’m like, “I don’t know if we do that. You call us that.” But we are certainly sisters in the struggle to fight for authentic, authentic progress for all of our communities.

And Rashida was right: I bought all of them bracelets when I was in Austin a couple of weeks ago. And it all had messages to what they mean to me. I think of Ayanna as someone who never takes “no” for an answer, even as she broke her leg, constantly getting up, making sure that she was fighting for all of us, using the strength of her voice. So, what I got her, her bracelet says “Unstoppable.” And everybody knows Rashida is the eldest of 14 kids, and she is Mama Bear, and so that’s what her bracelet says. And to my sister Alexandria, who isn’t here, her bracelet says “Boss Babe,” because she’s fierce. And mine says “Badass.”

And here’s why. Here’s why. Here’s the thing that really offends a lot of people and the reason that we are here. I was born—I was born as a very liberated human being, to a country that was colonized, that recognized that they can colonize the land but they can’t colonize your mind, to people who recognized that all of us deserve dignity and that no human being was ever, ever going to tell you that you are less than them. Thirteen people organized for our independence in Somalia. So I was born in that breath of recognizing that they might be more powerful than you are, that they might have more technology than you have, they might think that they are wiser than you, they might control all of the institutions, but you control your mind, and that is what sets you free.

So, a sister of mine on TV said the thing that upsets—the thing that upsets the occupant of the White House, his goons in the Republican Party, many of our colleagues in the Democratic Party, is that—is that they can’t stand—they cannot stand that a refugee, a black woman, an immigrant, a Muslim, shows up in Congress thinking she’s equal to them. But I say to them, “How else did you expect me to show up?”

Democracy Now for more

Comments are closed.