Democrats defend Omar after Trump retweets video against her

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., sits with fellow Democrats on the House Education and Labor Committee during a bill markup, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 6, 2019. (AP)
Updated 14 April 2019
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Democrats defend Omar after Trump retweets video against her

  • Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont said Omar “won’t back down to Trump’s racism and hate, and neither will we”
  • Pelosi, who was in Germany visiting US troops Saturday, said in a statement that “the memory of 9/11 is sacred ground” and should always be discussed “with reverence”

WASHINGTON: Top Democrats on Saturday rushed to defend Rep. Ilhan Omar after President Donald Trump retweeted video that was edited to suggest she was being dismissive of the significance of the worst terrorist assault on US soil.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi scolded Trump for using the “painful images of 9/11 for a political attack” against the first-term Minnesota Democrat.
And presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, campaigning in New Hampshire, accused Trump of “trying to incite violence and to divide us, and every political leader should speak out against that.”
The video Trump retweeted Friday pulls a snippet of Omar’s recent speech to the Council on American-Islamic Relations in which she described the 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center as “some people did something,” and includes news footage of the hijacked planes hitting the Twin Towers. Trump also tweeted, “WE WILL NEVER FORGET!“
Omar’s remark has drawn criticism largely from political opponents and conservatives who say the lawmaker, one of the first Muslim women to serve in Congress, offered a flippant description of the assailants and the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.
Neither Trump’s tweet nor the video included her full quote or the context of her comments.
Omar told CAIR in Los Angeles that many Muslims saw their civil liberties eroded after the attacks, and she advocated for activism.
“For far too long we have lived with the discomfort of being a second-class citizen and, frankly, I’m tired of it, and every single Muslim in this country should be tired of it,” she said in the March 23 speech, according to video posted online. “CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.”
CAIR was founded in 1994, according to its website, but its membership skyrocketed after the attacks.
Many Republicans and conservative outlets expressed outrage at Omar’s remarks. Fellow Democrats, including some who have disagreed with Omar in the past, defended her.
“First Member of Congress to ever describe terrorists who killed thousands of Americans on 9/11 as ‘some people who did something,’” tweeted Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas. The retired Navy SEAL lost his right eye in 2012 in an explosion in Afghanistan.
“Here’s your something,” the New York Post blared on its cover beneath a photograph of the flaming towers.
Pelosi, who was in Germany visiting US troops Saturday, said in a statement that “the memory of 9/11 is sacred ground” and should always be discussed “with reverence.” The California Democrat said it is wrong for Trump to “fan the flames to make anyone less safe.”
Omar didn’t appear to be backing down.
She tweeted a quote from President George W. Bush, who said days after the attacks: “The people — and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!“
“Was Bush downplaying the terrorist attack?” Omar tweeted. “What if he was a Muslim.”
Several of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates condemned Trump’s tweet.
Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, said the Republican president’s tweet was an “incitement to violence” against Omar, who is Muslim-American, and others like her. O’Rourke, campaigning in South Carolina, likened the tweet to Trump’s rhetoric about Mexicans, described in the past by Trump as murderers and rapists. O’Rourke said “there is a cost and there is a consequence” to Trump’s comments.
Warren, a Massachusetts senator, said Republican leaders in Congress “cannot take a pass on this, cannot look the other way and pretend it isn’t happening. It is happening. And those who don’t speak out in the Republican leadership are complicit in what he is doing. It’s wrong.”
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar noted that a New York man recently was charged with threatening Omar’s life.
“The video the president chose to send out today will only incite more hate,” Klobuchar said. “You can disagree with her words — as I have done before — but this video is wrong. Enough.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont said Omar “won’t back down to Trump’s racism and hate, and neither will we.”
Omar repeatedly has pushed fellow Democrats into uncomfortable territory over Israel and the strength of the Jewish state’s influence in Washington. She apologized for suggesting that lawmakers support Israel for pay and said she isn’t criticizing Jews. But she refused to take back a tweet in which she suggested American supporters of Israel “pledge allegiance” to a foreign country.
Her comments sparked an ugly episode among House Democrats after they responded with a resolution condemning anti-Semitism and the measure became a broader declaration against all forms of bigotry.


Priyanka standoff ends with visit to victims’ families

In this handout photo taken and released by the All India Congress Committee (AICC) Communication Department on July 19, 2019, Indian politician Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (2L) meets Sonbhadra massacre victims at the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) Trauma Centre in Varanasi. (AFP)
Updated 21 July 2019
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Priyanka standoff ends with visit to victims’ families

  • Priyanka Gandhi’s protest continued throughout Friday night while she demanded the right to visit the victims’ families

NEW DELHI: A political standoff over detained Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi ended on Saturday after she was allowed to meet relatives of 10 people killed in a caste clash in the eastern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
The Congress general secretary and sister of outgoing party president Rahul Gandhi was detained in Mirzapur on Friday while traveling to Sonbhadra to visit family members of 10 people shot and killed in a land dispute a day earlier.
The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Uttar Pradesh, led by Yogi Adityanath, detained Gandhi for violating the peace and stopped her from traveling further. The Congress leader then began a sit-in protest with her supporters at the Mirzapur guest house where she was held.
Her protest continued throughout Friday night while she demanded the right to visit the victims’ families. Television images showed Gandhi sitting in the dark after power and water supplies in the guest house were allegedly cut off by the local administration.
Her presence in the area, which also falls in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency in Varanasi, galvanized Congress workers who staged protests across the state.
Early on Saturday, relatives of some of the victims visited the guest house to meet the 47-year-old leader of the Gandhi-Nehru family, India’s pre-eminent political dynasty.
“My objective has been served as I have met the victims of the shooting,” said Gandhi before calling off her protest.
“The responsibility for the Sonbhadra massacre lies with the Yogi government,” she said.
Gandhi told her supporters, “I will be back,” before flying to New Delhi.
The BJP has accused the Congress leader of playing politics over the shootings.
“Congress has a history of playing politics over dead bodies,” said Swatantra Dev Singh, BJP president in Uttar Pradesh.
“The drama should stop. That is what I will say to Priyanka. All the accused have been arrested, and the officials responsible have been suspended,” he said.
The fatal shootings in Sonbhadra, 800 km southeast of New Delhi, drew mainstream media attention only when the Congress leader arrived in the state.
Observers say that the killing of 10 socially marginalized and landless tribes people by members of the dominant caste has highlighted the fragile caste situation in India’s most populous state.
The people of Gond tribe have been working the disputed land for generations. According to reports, the village head wanted tribes people to vacate the farm land. This led to conflict, and on Friday more than 200 armed men attacked the helpless villagers, killing 10 and injuring several others.
Gandhi, who entered politics only a few months before the general elections in May this year, seized the opportunity to connect with the people.
For the BJP, Uttar Pradesh is the jewel in the crown. The state gave the party 62 of its 303 parliamentary seats, and it is determined to maintain its political grip.
Political analysts say that Gandhi is determined to revive the Congress party in Uttar Pradesh by 2022 when the state goes to the polls.
“Priyanka Gandhi handled the Sonbhadra incident in a mature way, exposing the ham-fisted attitude of the Yogi government,” said Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, a New Delhi-based analyst and author.
“She also managed to expose the BJP’s class bias  and how the ruling party is protecting the interests of  dominant caste in the state,” said Mukhopadhyay.
“This incident gives the party a chance to go back to the people immediately after the huge loss in the elections,” Mukhopadhyay told Arab News.
Lucknow-based political analyst Ram Dutt Tripathi said that Gandhi has “shown her courage as a political leader willing to fight administrative injustice.”
“Her detention was illegal and the Congress has high hopes that she can lead the revival of the party,” said Tripathi.
“It is unfortunate that the state Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has not visited relatives of the victims so far and is putting restrictions on political opponents who want to stand with them,” he said.