Ilhan Omar calls on leaders to 'sanction' Lauren Boebert for Islamophobic remarks

Muslim congresswoman asks congressional leaders to remove her Republican colleague from committee assignments over comments that sparked racist death threats

Democratic congresswoman Ilhan Omar said on Wednesday that leaders in the US House of Representatives should strip her Republican colleague Lauren Boebert of her committee assignments for the Islamophobic remarks she made last week.

“She should be sanctioned, yes,” Ms Omar said.

If removed, Ms Boebert would join other Republicans who have been stripped of their committee assignments: Paul Gosar was taken off his committees after he tweeted an anime video showing him killing Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Marjorie Taylor Greene was removed for spreading myriad conspiracy theories over social media.

Ms Omar's comments came after she released an explicitly racist and Islamophobic death threat that was left on her voicemail following Ms Boebert's remarks. She called on Republican leaders to take action against the “anti-Muslim” sentiment in their party.

At an event in Colorado last week, Ms Boebert said Ms Omar, a Muslim Somali American from Minnesota, is a member of the “jihad squad” and made a joke about being stuck in a lift with Ms Omar and fearing she was a suicide bomber.

Having initially apologised for the remarks, but not to Ms Omar directly, Ms Boebert called her colleague on Monday.

But the phone call went awry and the Republican congresswoman later doubled down on her Islamophobic remarks. Fellow Republican Party members have remained largely silent on the issue.

At a press conference on Tuesday, a visibly shaken Ms Omar held a phone up to the microphone and played the death threat.

The message, laden with profanity, racial epithets and a threat to “take you off the face of the [expletive] earth”, is among hundreds of such messages she said she has received since joining Congress.

Ms Omar, who is one of only a handful of Muslim members of Congress, said the voicemail was left following Ms Boebert's attack on Monday.

Ms Omar has been the subject of repeated attacks by conservative pundits and some Republicans in Congress that she says have led to an increase in the number of death threats she receives.

“When a sitting member of Congress calls a colleague a member of the ‘jihad squad’ and falsifies a story to suggest I will blow up the Capitol, it is not just an attack on me but on millions of American Muslims across the country,” Ms Omar said.

“We cannot pretend this hate speech from leading politicians doesn't have real consequences.”

In the grainy recording, a man can be heard saying, “You will not be living much longer, [expletive]” while promising that “we the people are rising up”. He also calls Ms Omar a “traitor” and pledges that she will stand trial before a military tribunal.

Ms Omar concluded by saying: “It is time for the Republican Party to actually do something to confront anti-Muslim hatred in its ranks and hold those who perpetuate it accountable.”

Ms Boebert's incendiary remarks are the latest example of a Republican legislator carrying out a personal attack against another member of Congress, a trend that has gone largely unchecked by House Republican leaders.

The congresswoman called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to “take appropriate action".

But so far Mr McCarthy, who is in line to become House speaker if Republicans retake the majority next year, has proven reluctant to police members of his caucus whose views are often closely aligned with large parts of the party’s base.

Andre Carson, a Democratic congressman who is also Muslim, said he is working with Democratic leadership on a House resolution that would address the issue.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Updated: December 8th 2021, 9:21 PM