On Tuesday, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) shared audio of a harrowing death threat she received after a video of far-right Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colorado) making Islamophobic comments about her was posted and amplified online.
Omar played the voicemail — which was laced with profanities and racist slurs — during a press conference in the Capitol aimed at urging the GOP to take action against the Islamophobia within their party. The lawmaker said she received the voicemail shortly after finishing a phone call with Boebert on Monday, in which the extremist Republican refused to apologize for her comments and instead doubled down on her bigoted attacks.
During the short portion of the voicemail that Omar played, the anonymous caller made several threats on her life. “We see you Muslim and [n*****] bitch. We know what you’re up to. You’re all about taking over our country,” the caller said, referring to hateful and false conspiracy theories. “Don’t worry, there’s plenty that will love the opportunity to take you off the face of this fucking earth.”
“You fucking Muslim piece of shit,” the caller continued. “You jihadist. We know what you are. You’re a fucking traitor. You will not live much longer, bitch. I can almost guarantee you that.”
Members of any party should find threats to a lawmaker’s life unacceptable, Omar said. “Condemning this should not be a partisan issue,” she went on. “This is about our basic humanity and fundamental rights of religious freedom.”
During her tenure as a representative, the progressive lawmaker has received and reported hundreds of threats on her life. These threats often spike after Republican attacks, as they did after Boebert’s attack this week, she said.
While speaking in the Capitol, Omar shared her experience facing Islamophobia as she sought and gained public office. On her first day as a representative, Steve King of Iowa, a Republican representative at the time, implied that she might have explosives with her because of her faith.
“The truth is, is that Islamophobia pervades our culture, our politics, and even policy decisions. Cable news hosts, leading politicians in the Republican party routinely espouse hateful rhetoric about a religion that includes a diverse group of more than a billion peaceful worshipers around the world,” Omar said.
She went on to point out harmful stereotypes about Muslims, including that Muslims want to take over the country and — most pervasively — that all Muslims are terrorists. When Boebert and other political officials spew such rhetoric, Omar said, “it is not just an attack on me. It is an attack on millions of American Muslims across this country.”
“We cannot pretend that this hate speech from leading politicians doesn’t have real consequences,” she went on, pointing to deadly attacks on mosques and Muslim families, as well as growing Islamophobic vitriol in the U.S.
The lawmaker concluded her press conference by calling on Republican leaders to condemn and take action against Islamophobia within the party. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) has so far remained silent on the issue, standing by as his members wage hateful and dangerous aggression against Omar. Even as more videos of Boebert implying that Omar is a terrorist have been unearthed, Republican leaders refuse to take action.
While some Democrats like Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-New York) are publicly calling for Boebert to be formally punished, Democratic leaders have said that they’re still contemplating the path forward. “We’re considering what action ought to be taken,” House Majority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) told reporters.
In the voicemail shared by Omar, the caller repeated some of the bigoted language used by Boebert and other far-right politicians. Boebert referred to Omar as being part of the “jihad squad,” a hateful nickname for progressive lawmakers dubbed by Republican politicians. The use of the word “traitor” has also been pervasive among the right, with another death threat caller using the word to describe a Republican lawmaker who voted with Democrats on the infrastructure bill earlier this month.