Tures: A progressive Muslim woman is criticized

Published 5:12 pm Monday, July 29, 2019

John Tures
Political science professor at LaGrange College

Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has been unfairly attacked, where the truth has been altered to imply she supports al-Qaeda and terrorism, and was the victim of an odious series of “Send Her Back” tweets from the President and chants from a North Carolina crowd. Sadly, she showed she hadn’t learned much from the experience, when she verbally harangued a liberal Muslim woman who asked a legitimate question at a conference.

After the sequence of frankly Un-American tirades against Rep. Omar, as well as Rep. Tlaib, Rep. Pressley and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, which resulted in actual death threats, the House of Representatives member from Minnesota published an op-ed in The New York Times titled “It Is Not Enough To Condemn Trump’s Racism.” In it, Rep. Omar wrote about demagogues using their power to target enemies. She stated “The only way to push back is to be unequivocal about our values.”

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Around the same time, Rep. Omar was at a conference titled “the Muslim Collective for Equitable Democracy.” She was asked by Ani Zonneveld of the Muslims for Progressive Values if the congresswoman would condemn Female Genital Mutilation.

Rep. Omar immediately went on the attack, calling the question “appalling.” According to Huffington Post, she said “How often should I make a schedule like this? This needs to be on repeat every five minutes. Should I do that?…So today, I forgot to condemn al-Qaeda, so here’s the al-Qaeda one. I forgot to condemn FGM. Here that goes. I forgot to condemn Hamas. Here that goes. I am quite disgusted, really, to be honest, that as Muslim legislators we are constantly being asked to waste our time speaking to issues that other people are not asked to speak to…So I want to make sure that the next time someone is in an audience and is looking at me, and Rashida and Abdul and Sam, that they asked us the proper questions that they will probably ask any member of Congress.”

Rep. Omar sounded a little like her critics, when she doled out the criticism to the leader of the Muslims for Progressive Values, which is recognized by the United Nations and has played a critical role in pushing back against anti-Muslim propaganda. The group renounces violence, calls for the separation of church and state, supports freedom of speech (even against charges of blasphemy), backs women’s rights, and LGBTQ inclusion. Zonneveld and her group use the Qua’ran to justify their arguments, appearing in books, TED talks, and albums, promoting this modern view of Muslims. And yes, the group is no fan of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

To smack down Zonneveld was unfair. All Rep. Omar had to do was to point out that she herself had voted in resolutions against FGM. But yes, it’s a legitimate issue. Doctors in America are having to deal with the issue, as are Muslim families in the United States. It’s important to take a stand against this barbarous and un-hygienic practice that has no place in Islam.

In columns, I’ve criticized domestic terrorists who falsely claim to be acting on behalf of Americans, whites, Christians in their actions. It’s what you do when someone misrepresents you. Muslims like Zonneveld have done the same when Islam has been falsely smeared.

True, not every lawmaker gets asked about FGM. But Rep. Omar is Muslim and very vocal about it, and is recognized in the Muslim community as a leader. If it’s not unfair to ask a white Christian to condemn Dylann Roof’s terrorism at the Charleston shooting, then it should be fair to ask Rep. Omar about terrorism and FGM.