Republicans in the United States ousted Democrat representative Ilhan Omar from a the House Foreign Affairs Committee over anti-Semitic comments, a sign of escalating tensions within the US Congress.
What happened: Former Somali refugee Ilhan Omar became the third Democrat to be stripped from her committee assignments by Republicans this year after she made several comments critical of Israel, ranging back to 2012, which has been condemned throughout Congress.
The comments against Israel: In 2019, Omar apologised after she suggested that Republican support for Israel was largely fuelled by donations from a pro-Israel lobby group.
The Democrats, who were in power in the House at the time, initially were looking to support a resolution to admonish her but settled on condemning anti-Semitism that didn’t mention Omar by name.
Before she entered Congress, almost five years earlier, she said that Israel had “hypnotised the world” and urged people to open their eyes to their “evil doings.”
However, she has since said that she was unaware of the anti-Semitic nature of her remarks that invoked that Israel was hypnotising people.
She has since said she was unaware at the time of her remarks of the anti-Semitic tropes that invoke Israelis hypnotising people and connect Jews to money.
The relationship with India: Ilhan Omar has also made a few headlines in India after she introduced a resolution in Congress to condemn India for “human rights violations and violations of international religious freedom.”
The resolution came two months after a visit to Pakistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. In 2019, she also voted against a bill that would have cut the waiting times for Indians in the line for Green Cards, which is known to stretch to several decades in some cases.
The timing: The mostly-party line based vote came after Speaker Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican in Congress, made sure to keep a campaign promise to deny seats on the Intelligence committee to the panel's last Democratic chairman Adan Schiff and Eric Swalwell,.
What did Omar say: "I am a Muslim, I'm an immigrant and, interestingly, I'm from Africa," the 40-year-old Minnesota progressive said in a floor speech ahead of her removal from the Committee.
Democrats pick up the attack: Democrat Representative from New York, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, or AOC, gave an impassioned speech defending Omar and said that Republicans in Congress were engaging in Islamophobia
“Now as also as a fellow New Yorker, I think one of the things we should talk about here is also one of the disgusting legacies of 9/11 has been the targeting and racism against Muslim Americans throughout the United States of America. And this is an extension of that legacy."Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat Representative from New York
Democratic Congresswoman Kathrine Clark also spoke out against the removal and said that it would deprive the committee of a “refugee and survivor of war” who "knows first-hand what is at stake in its work."
Democratic Representative Rashida Tlaib said, “Where are the free speech warriors today? The hypocrisy is obvious to the American people.”
What did the Republicans say?: Speaker McCarthy denied any relations between Omar’s removal from the Foreign Affairs Committee and the removal of Republicans Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar from their respective committees in 2020, citing social media posts directed at Democrats.
"We're not removing her from other committees…We just do not believe when it comes to foreign affairs, especially with the responsibility of that position around the world, with the comments that you make, she shouldn't serve there."Kevin McCarthy
Ohio Republican Max Miller, who introduced the resolution to formally remove Omar said that her “discriminatory” comments towards Israel and her tense relationship with an ally disqualified her.