Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar has faced threats and racist attacks since she was elected — so much so that she has had to hire security. And apparently, it's only gotten worse in recent days and weeks. On Aug. 27, a photo of Omar circulated on Twitter in which a bodyguard was seen standing behind her as she spoke at an event. Then, on Aug. 28, Omar posted a death threat she received to Twitter to explain why she needs security, and it's so troubling.
"I hate that we live in a world where you have to be protected from fellow humans," Omar tweeted. "I hated it as a child living through war and I hate it now. But until deranged people like this stop threatening my life and the lives of others, I have to accept the reality of having security."
Her tweet included a photo of an anonymous death threat she received, printed on plain computer paper. It said, "You will not be going back to Washington, your life will end before your 'Vacation' ends." The threat went on to insinuate that Omar would be targeted at the Minnesota State Fair, and that she "won't die alone."
As Omar referenced in her tweet, she and her family arrived in the United States as refugees in the 1990s, having escaped Somalia's civil war. She gained her citizenship in 2000, the Associated Press reported, and was elected to Congress in 2018. Even as a congresswoman, however, Omar has said that she has had to contend with threats of violence. According to Axios, both Omar and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have previously claimed they saw a spike in death threats every time they received critiques from conservatives. As one of the first Muslim women ever elected to Congress, Omar routinely faces threats that are not only racist and sexist, but also Islamophobic, HuffPost pointed out.
In April, for example, Trump tweeted a video of footage from 9/11 with comments from Omar interspersed throughout. Following Trump's tweet, Omar released a statement indicating that she had "experienced an increase in direct threats on my life — many directly referencing or replying to the President’s video.” Later that month, a reporter asked Trump if he had any regrets about his tweet, given the death threats Omar received afterward. “No, not at all,” Trump responded. "She’s got a way about her that’s very, very bad, I think, for our country. I think she’s extremely unpatriotic and extremely disrespectful to our country.”
Also in April, a man from New York was charged with allegedly threatening to shoot Omar in a March 21 call to her office in Washington D.C., USA Today reported. The man reportedly told an FBI agent that he loved the president. This was one in a series of threats that Omar received, per USA Today.
The threats against Omar have been so severe that later in April, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she spoke to the House's Sergeant-at-Arms to ensure that Omar, her family, and her staff were safe.
"The President's words weigh a ton, and his hateful and inflammatory rhetoric creates real danger," Pelosi said in an April 14 statement, per HuffPost. "President Trump must take down his dangerous and disrespectful video."
But Trump has since escalated his attacks on Omar, Ocasio-Cortez, and two other progressive congresswomen of color, demanding in July that the four women "go back" to the purportedly "corrupt" countries they came from rather than “loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States” how the government should operate." All four women are U.S. citizens, and all except Omar were born in the United States. Trump later doubled down on the remarks, and even suggested that the congresswomen owed him an apology. In light of this, as well as the death threats that she has continued to receive, members of the House have demanded additional security for Omar out of concern for her safety.
The photo of Omar speaking at an event while accompanied by a bodyguard definitely got Twitter's attention. Hopefully the troubling reason she needs security won't be overlooked, either.