‘Not deterred’: A defiant Ilhan Omar vows to fight Trump


19 July 2019| 16 Dhul Qadha 1440| Al Jazeera 

US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has said she will not be intimidated by President Donald Trump, who has attacked her with racist comments more than once this week, as she returned to a warm welcome in her home state of Minnesota in the United States.

“We are not deterred. We are not frightened,” she told her supporters on Thursday night.

The president’s “nightmare is seeing a Somali immigrant refugee rise to Congress,” she said through a megaphone, to shouts of support from the crowd who held signs saying “End racism now” and “I stand with Ilhan”.

Chants of “Send her back!” broke out at Trump’s “Make America Great Again” rally in Greenville, North Carolina, on Wednesday night when he attacked Omar and three other ethnic minority Democratic congresswomen. 

Trump claimed to reporters in the Oval Office on Thursday that there was “great energy” at his earlier rally but he was not pleased by the taunts.

“I was not happy when I heard that chant,” he said. “I didn’t like that they did it, and I started speaking quickly.”

Television footage showed, however, that Trump let the chant continue for more than 10 seconds before he resumed speaking.

Earlier, a defiant Omar called the US president “fascist”. She cast the confrontation as a fight over “what this country truly should be.”

“We are going to continue to be a nightmare to this president because his policies are a nightmare to us,” she told a cheering crowd that greeted her like a local hero at the Minneapolis St Paul International Airport.

‘Completely unacceptable’

Trump started the week’s tumult by tweeting on Sunday that Omar and three other Congresswomen could “go back” to their native countries if they were unhappy in the US.

His other targets were Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts. All four are US citizens and all but Omar were born in the US.

The four Congresswomen, known as “the squad”, condemned Trump’s racist tweets, saying they won’t be silenced, and in a rare vote earlier this week, the House of Representatives condemned Trump’s tweets against the four politicians. 

Ocasio-Cortez said on Thursday Trump’s attacks on her and three other Democratic Congresswomen are putting millions of Americans at risk of physical harm.

The chants at the Trump rally brought scathing criticism from Republican legislators as well as from Democrats, though the Republicans did not fault Trump himself. On Friday, European politicians also weighed in.  

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the comments run counter to what she considers “the strength of America” and expressed solidarity with Omar.

“People of very different nationalities have contributed to the strength of the American people, so these are … comments that very much run counter to this firm impression that I have,” said Merkel  at a press conference in Berlin. 

“I distance myself firmly from this and feel solidarity with the three women who were attacked,” she added. 

Sajid Javid, the United Kingdom’s minister of interior, said the chants were “completely unacceptable”.

“I am deeply concerned … the chants of ‘send her back’, this is going on in the US today. Imagine if people were saying to me in Britain ‘send him back’,” said Javid, who is of Pakistani heritage.

“I’d like to think that most of society would think that’s just completely unacceptable in a modern liberal democracy.”

Meanwhile, in an open letter on Thursday, nearly 150 UK legislators criticised Trump’s attacks against the four Congresswomen “abhorrent”. 

“It is shocking that in the 21st century a president of the United States would speak about opposition congresswomen of colour as non-Americans, ” read the letter coordinated by Labour MP Naz Shah.