More than 400 congressional staff members are calling on House leaders to “categorically reject the incendiary rhetoric” in the workplace following the recent anti-Muslim remarks by Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., about Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.
“As passionate public servants, we each have chosen to pursue a career in public service to work towards a better future for our country,” the aides wrote in an open letter to the chamber's leadership. “However, the recent remarks by Rep. Boebert have heightened the climate of Islamophobia on the Hill, creating a feeling of anxiety and fear for many Muslim staff, our families, and communities, and leaving many of us to look to our congressional leaders for support.”
The letter, a copy of which NBC News obtained Tuesday, was signed by more than 50 Muslim aides. It is being released Wednesday.
Boebert, who is known for her incendiary rhetoric, suggested in a video that surfaced online last month that Omar, who is Muslim and wears a hijab, was mistaken for a terrorist in an elevator both were riding in at the U.S. Capitol.
Omar immediately criticized the video as "bigotry" and said the event Boebert described never occurred. Boebert apologized in a tweet the next day "to anyone in the Muslim community I offended" and said she had reached out to Omar's office to speak with her directly.
When the two later spoke on the phone, however, Boebert refused to apologize publicly, prompting Omar to abruptly end the call.
It was just one recent example of aggressive, provocative attacks by GOP members of Congress against their colleagues. Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., was censured by the Democratic-led House last month over an anime video he posted that depicted him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and assaulting President Joe Biden. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., recently called Republicans who voted for Biden’s infrastructure bill “traitors” and posted their phone numbers on Twitter, leading to a death threat against Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich.
A senior congressional aide said the staff members’ open letter is significant given the increasingly hostile environment in the Capitol after the deadly Jan. 6 riot.
“There is no HR on Capitol Hill for these staffers to turn to for help, and that’s why they felt the only protection they can get is from the House leadership,” the aide said.