Ilhan Omar, easily the coolest member of “the Squad,” was asked a question on Tuesday that she called “frustrating” and “appalling.”
During a panel at the Muslim Caucus Education Collective’s Conference in Washington, D.C., Ani Osman-Zonneveld of the human rights group Muslims for Progressive Values asked Omar to condemn female genital mutilation (FGM).
“I’d like to know will you be able to make a statement against FGM, because that’s an issue in Detroit,” she said. “It would be really powerful if the two Muslim congresswomen, yourself and Rashida [Tlaib, a Democrat from Michigan], would make a statement on this issue.”
“Your second question is an appalling question because 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: ‘could you and Rashida do this?’ And it’s like, how often—should I make a schedule? 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?
Omar added that she has a record on FGM. “It is a very frustrating question that comes up,” she said. “You can look at my record. I voted for bills doing exactly what you’re asking me to do.”
In 2017, for instance, Omar voted in favor of a bill in Minnesota that sought to expand the already-existing penalties for FGM, though she also she raised questions about the bill. She has also voted for congressional resolutions condemning the practice.
Last year, a federal judge said that a federal law banning FGM was unconstitutional and dismissed the first federal charges of the procedure. While it’s a criminal offense in 27 U.S. states, that means that the U.S. laws on FGM were seriously weakened.
“I think I am really quite disgusted, to be honest, that as Muslim legislators we 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—there is an assumption,” Omar continued.
She turned to 2018 Michigan gubernatorial candidate Abdul El-Sayed and Virginia Delegate Sam Rasoul, who were on the panel with her. “I want to make sure that the next time someone is in an audience and is looking at me and Rashida and Abdul and Sam,” she said, “that they ask us the proper questions that they will probably ask any member of Congress or any legislator or any politician and would not come with an accusation that we might support something that is so abhorrent, so offensive, so evil, so vile.”