Socialist Congresswoman Ilhan Omar is appalled – “quite disgusted really” – that someone would have the audacity to ask her position on female genital mutilation.
The practice, which The Washington Post claimed just last year is very common in Omar’s “nation back home” in Somalia, apparently struck a chord with Omar, who berated the president of Muslims for Progressive Values, Ani Zonneveld, for asking her about the gruesome procedure during the Muslim Caucus Education Collective’s 2019 conference on Tuesday.
Omar implied Zonneveld is racist for broaching the topic with a Muslim lawmaker like herself, who doesn’t deserve to be subjected to questions about her beliefs.
“Your second question is an appalling question because I always feel like there are bills that we vote on, bills we sponsor, many statements we put out, and then we’re in a panel like this and the question is posed, ‘Can you and Rashida do this?’” Omar told Zonneveld, referring to Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who became the first Muslim congresswoman alongside Omar in 2018.
“And it’s like, how often should I make a schedule? Like, does this need to be on repeat every five minutes? Should I be like, ‘so today I forgot to condemn al-Qaeda, so here’s the al-Qaeda one. Today, I forgot to condemn FGM, so here it goes. Today, I forgot to condemn Hamas, so here it goes. …’ You know what I mean? It is a very frustrating question.”
It’s a question that’s not worth her valuable time, she said.
“You can look at my record, I voted – four bills – doing exactly what you are asking me to do. I have put out statements upon statements. There’s … a resolution that I am equal author of that I voted out of the Foreign Affairs Committee. And so I am, I think, 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 because the assumption exists that we somehow support and are for,” Omar said, “so I want to make sure that the next time that someone is in an audience and is looking at me and Rashida and Abdul and Sam, that they ask us the proper questions that they would probably ask any member of Congress.”
Just last year, the Post featured protests in Somalia over the death of a 10-year-old girl activists claimed was the direct result of female genital mutilation, which remains a long-standing tradition in the country for “most girls,” according to the news site.
Omar is a refugee from Somalia who fled to the United States as a teenager and later became a U.S. citizen and lawmaker.
“In 2012, Somalia introduced a new constitution that was supposed to ban female genital mutilation. But a few years later, there had been little follow-up, and UNICEF still estimated that up to 98 percent of girls and women there had been cut,” the Post reported.
“FGM, which is sometimes called female circumcision, can take many forms but often includes the removal of the clitoris and some parts of the labia. It can cause lifelong health problems, including dangerous complications in childbirth. The United Nations identifies FGM as ‘an extreme form of discrimination against women and girls.’”
Regardless, Omar believes that lawmakers from Muslim countries where it’s very common shouldn’t be called on to discuss the disturbing practice, because that’s racist.
Such questions “come with an accusation that we might support something that is so abhorrent, so offensive, so evil, so vile,” she said.
The Minnesota congresswoman concluded her rant with a reprimand for Zonneveld and the rest of the racists in America.
“What we look for, and what this whole conversation is about, is that not only do we not have internalized fears about what we might believe, and how that gets implemented, but that we also don’t have assumptions about what our values basis might be because of where we might come from and who we pray to.
“And so I would like not just for you but for everyone to know that if you want us to speak as politicians, as American politicians, you treat us as such,” she lectured.