‘Hands off Ilhan’: black women in solidarity with Ilhan Omar

On April 30, over 100 Black women activists gathered in Washington, DC, to support Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar in the face of Islamophobic incitement from the Trump White House. The event, Black Women in Defense of Ilhan Omar—organized by Angela Davis, Barbara Ransby, Black Lives Matter co-founders, and others—drew participants from around the country. Together they called for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other House Democrats to censure President Donald Trump for tweeting a video of the 9/11 attacks, complete with flaming images of the twin towers, falsely accusing Omar of minimizing the attacks. The tweet was the latest incident in a cycle of incitement against Omar and spurred a spike in death threats targeting her.

For the past few months, Omar has repeatedly come under fire for her comments criticizing America’s pro-Israel policies and the role of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in pushing US support for the occupation. She has also become a scapegoat for right-wing commentators who have sought to turn her into a symbol of left-wing anti-Semitism, at a time when white-nationalist violence against Jewish and Muslim places of worship is on the rise.

The protest came as a moment of Black women’s unity in the face of Islamophobic misogynoir, with speakers such as Representative Ayanna Pressley contextualizing the attacks on Omar as part of a long-standing pattern of silencing of Black women’s voices. Speaking at the event, Omar described the attacks on her in the broader context of white supremacy, including anti-Jewish violence like the attack on a synagogue in Poway, California, saying, “We collectively must make sure that we are dismantling all systems of oppression.”


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