Ilhan Omar says GOP wants her off Foreign Affairs committee because she’s Black and Muslim

Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar is claiming a Republican-led push to boot her from the House Foreign Affairs Committee is rooted in racism and Islamophobia and meant to appease bigots in the House GOP conference.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has pledged to force a vote on removing her from the influential panel, where she has held a seat since she was first sworn in as a member of Congress in 2019.

Mr McCarthy and other Republicans have claimed that her criticism of the Israeli government amounts to antisemitism and have pointed to a comment she made about Israel having “hypnotized” the world and a past accusation she made regarding pro-Israel lawmakers’ alleged financial motivations as evidence that she is unfit to serve on the committee.

But Ms Omar, who came to the US as a child refugee from Somalia and is one of just two Muslim women in Congress, said on Sunday that the House speaker’s actions are motivated by revenge and bigotry, during an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union programme.

“It is politically motivated,” Ms Omar said. “In some cases, it’s motivated by the fact that many of these members don’t believe a Muslim, a refugee, an African should even be in Congress, let alone have the opportunity to serve on the Foreign Affairs Committee”.

Pressed on whether she was outright accusing Mr McCarthy of racism, she said she was “just laying out the facts” and “not making any accusations”.

Ms Omar also pointed to Mr McCarthy’s defence of other GOP representatives who were previously criticised for making Islamophobic comments about her, such as Representative Lauren Boebert, who once suggested the Minnesota congresswoman could be a suicide bomber.

“What did McCarthy do? He said, she apologised, and we don’t have to worry about her Islamophobia, and so these people are OK with Islamophobia. They’re OK with trafficking in their own ways in antisemitism,” she said. “They are not OK with having a Muslim have a voice on that committee”.