US congresswoman Ilhan Omar has blamed Donald Trump for a spike in death threats against her after the president tweeted a video suggesting she was dismissive of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Mr Trump has been heavily criticised for the tweet and accused by some of inciting violence against Ms Omar, who became one of the first Muslim women to sit in Congress in January.
The video included a snippet from a recent speech Ms Omar gave to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, in which she described the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the World Trade Center as “some people did something,” along with news footage of the hijacked airplanes hitting the Twin Towers. Mr Trump shared the video along with the caption: “we will never forget!”
Ms Omar was accused of being flippant in describing the perpetrators of the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people. She later sought to defend herself by tweeting a quote from President George W Bush, in which the Republican president referred to the attackers as “people” just days after the tragedy.
I did not run for Congress to be silent. I did not run for Congress to sit on the sidelines. I ran because I believed it was time to restore moral clarity and courage to Congress. To fight and to defend our democracy.
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) April 13, 2019
Neither Mr Trump’s tweet nor the video included Ms Omar’s full quote or the context of her comments, which were about Muslims feeling that their civil liberties had eroded after the attacks.
Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic House Speaker, called for Mr Trump to take down the video and said that she has taken steps to ensure Ms Omar’s safety.
“The President’s words weigh a ton, and his hateful and inflammatory rhetoric creates real danger,” Ms Pelosi said in a statement.
Soon after Ms Pelosi’s statement, the video disappeared as a pinned tweet at the top of Mr Trump’s Twitter feed but it has not been deleted. It has had more than 10 million views since it was posted.
Mr Trump also lashed out at Ms Pelosi, tweeting on Monday: “Before Nancy, who has lost all control of Congress and is getting nothing done, decides to defend her leader, Rep. Omar, she should look at the anti-Semitic, anti-Israel and ungrateful U.S. hate statements Omar has made”.
“She is out of control, except for her control of Nancy!” Mr Trump added.
Before Nancy, who has lost all control of Congress and is getting nothing done, decides to defend her leader, Rep. Omar, she should look at the anti-Semitic, anti-Israel and ungrateful U.S. HATE statements Omar has made. She is out of control, except for her control of Nancy!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 15, 2019
A man from New York state was recently charged with making death threats against Ms Omar. The congresswoman, who represents a district in Minnesota, said since Mr Trump’s tweet she has received numerous threats on her life that referred or replied to the posted video.
“Violent crimes and other acts of hate by right-wing extremists and white nationalists are on the rise in this country and around the world,” she said. “We can no longer ignore that they are being encouraged by the occupant of the highest office in the land.”
“We are all Americans,” she added.
It is not the first time Ms Omar has been the subject of controversy. Earlier this year she apologised for suggesting that congressmen support Israel because of pro-Israeli lobbying and said “my intention is never to offend my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole”.
But she refused to take back a tweet in which she suggested American supporters of Israel “pledge allegiance” to a foreign country.