Omar and Boebert have ‘unproductive’ call after anti-Muslim remarks

·3 min read
<span>Photograph: Nicholas Pfosi/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Nicholas Pfosi/Reuters

Ilhan Omar said she had an “unproductive” call with Lauren Boebert on Monday regarding the Colorado rightwinger’s Islamophobic comments that she made towards the Minnesota Democrat last week.

In a new statement released on Monday, Omar said she “graciously accepted a call from Rep. Lauren Boebert in the hope of receiving a direct apology for falsely claiming she met me in an elevator, suggesting I was a terrorist, and for a history of anti-Muslim hate”.

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Omar added: “She instead doubled down on her rhetoric and I decided to end the unproductive call. I believe in engaging with those we disagree with respectfully, but not when that disagreement is rooted in outright bigotry and hate.”

Over Thanksgiving break, Boebert made anti-Muslim remarks about Omar to an audience in her home district, saying: “Actually I have an Ilhan story for you … So the other night on the House floor was not my first ‘Jihad Squad’ moment.”

“So I was getting into an elevator with one of my staffers. You know, we’re leaving the Capitol and we’re going back to my office and we get an elevator and I see a Capitol police officer running to the elevator. 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.’”

The audience laughed and applauded.

“We only had one floor to go,” Boebert continued. “I said, ‘Oh look, the Jihad Squad decided show up for work today.’”

She was referring to the “Squad”, a group of leftwing Democrats. Boebert, an extremist figure on the Trumpist wing of the party has also used the term on the floor of the House.

Boebert apologized on Twitter on Friday, saying: “I apologize to anyone in the Muslim community I offended with my comment about Rep. Omar,” adding that she had reached out to Omar’s office to speak with her directly.

On Monday, Boebert posted a video on Instagram, recapping her conversation with Omar. “As a strong, Christian woman who values faith deeply, I never want anything I say to offend someone’s religion. So I told her that. Even after I put out a public statement … she said that she still wanted a public apology because what I had done wasn’t good enough,” she said.

Boebert went on to add that she refused to make a public apology directly to the Minnesota representative and instead demanded Omar apologize for her “anti-American, antisemitic, anti-police rhetoric. And then Representative Omar hung up on me.”

In her statement on Monday, Omar demanded the Republican House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, “actually hold his party accountable” and accused the Republican party of having “mainstreamed bigotry and hatred”.

That call has been echoed by other senior Democrats, including the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, who issued a joint statement over the weekend that read: “Racism and bigotry of any form, including Islamophobia, must always be called out, confronted and condemned in any place it is found.”

There is probably little chance of Republicans taking action against Boebert, given her popularity with the base and the firm grip that Trump has on the party as speculation over the former president’s 2024 White House ambitions continues to run wild.