#IStandWithIlhan: What the Latest Attacks Against Ilhan Omar Tell us About Anti-Blackness

Yesterday, Trump tweeted out an edited video of Rep. Ilhan Omar’s comments about 9/11. From Omar’s entire speech, he picked out four decontextualized words—“some people did something”—which he used to further fuel his Islamophobic propaganda and racist agenda.

It seems to me that many white, conservative men like Trump are intimidated by strong and powerful women of colour. When we refuse to fit into a certain box that society has crafted for us, these bigots become angry and vocal, so try to use any means possible to diminish our confidence and worldwide support. Here at Muslim Girl, we stand with Congresswoman Ilhan Omar today, and everyday.

Within hours of Trump tweeting out his propaganda-ridden video, the hashtag #IStandWithIlhanOmar once again began to trend across social media. People from all walks of life had come together in solidarity to demonstrate their strength and unity for Omar.

Here’s a little sample of what the Twitterverse had to say:

1. Ilhan’s daughter, Isra, demonstrating the same strength as her fearless mother:

2. Many were quick to call out the dangerous rhetoric that Trump has been pushing forward:

3. Others supported through solidarity and empathy:

4. And of course, the hashtag is full of messages of empowerment:

Trump has purposefully instigated violence and hatred against Omar by building upon the Islamophobic rhetoric that runs so deeply throughout our society. Recently, a man was arrested over death threats towards Omar, yet these dangerous narratives are still being pushed forward by the right.

In a segment, Fox and Friends responded to these hateful comments by further perpetuating the situation, stating that “you have to wonder if she’s [Omar] an American first”. This is something Muslim women are too used to hearing—we’re forced to choose between our identity and our nationality. Is Ilhan Omar defined by her Americanness, or her Blackness and Muslimness? This way of thinking puts across the notion that Muslim women do not belong in American society, and especially not if they’re Black too.

Omar continues to be seen as a threat to American democracy, and the American way of life because of her Blackness and because of her hijab, which is why #IStandWithIlhan, and you should too.

If we turn the tables and have a look at former President Bush’s comments about 9/11—claiming that some people “knocked these buildings down”—was there the same level of outrage? Of course not. What about Trump callously claiming that one of his buildings was now “the tallest” after 9/11? Or the New York Post feeding into blatant discrimination by having this as their cover page attacking Omar? None of these people were held accountable for their choice of words, and I doubt they ever will be. Omar continues to be seen as a threat to American democracy, and the American way of life because of her Blackness and because of her hijab, which is why #IStandWithIlhan, and you should too.

Omar has been a beacon of hope and justice, speaking up for all marginalised and tokenised people, long before she joined Congress. Her intersectionality as a Black Muslim woman (making her a triple jeopardy) coupled with gendered Islamophobia, makes her victim to a number of spiteful attacks and death threats.

As a young, Brown Muslim girl, to see someone like Ilhan influencing politics and refusing to back down in the face of adversity has such a powerful impact. We will not let her stand alone, or be shunned in a corner. Just like Ilhan, we should all build ourselves a seat at the table and stay there, no matter what it takes.