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Omar's remark on 9/11, Muslim civil rights riles conservatives

Omar has been subjected to death threats for comments she made about Israel.
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Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., finds herself embroiled in another controversy after a comment she made about the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and Muslim civil rights.

Speaking last month at an event hosted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations' Los Angeles chapter, Omar mistakenly said the organization was founded in response to the terrorist attacks, adding "because they recognized that some people did something" — a phrasing that some in conservative media have interpreted as a too-flippant reference to the attack.

"CAIR was founded after 9/11, because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties," Omar said.

It is unclear what Omar meant by the wording of her comment.

A spokeswoman for Omar said the congresswoman had misspoken about CAIR's founding. It was established in 1994, but expanded its civil rights advocacy after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The front page of The New York Post on Thursday denounced Omar, splashing the words "Here's Your Something" over an image of the World Trade Center towers ablaze after the planes hit.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., came to Omar's defense, tweeting Thursday that the newspaper "knows exactly what it's doing - taking quotes out of context and evoking painful imagery to spread hate and endangering the life of Rep. Omar."

"Shame on them," she added.

In an interview on MSNBC moments later, she called The New York Post cover a "pure racist act."

"They do this all the time to us. Especially women of color. They take our words out of context because they’re afraid … because we speak truth to power," she said.

Tlaib said Omar — who became last fall the first Somali American, first Muslim refugee and first hijab-wearing Muslim woman elected to Congress — "has always condemned" terrorism because "she has seen what terrorists can do," pointing to the fact that Omar came to the U.S. as a child refugee fleeing violence in Somalia.

Omar and Tlaib are the first Muslim women to serve in Congress.

Fellow freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., also defended Omar, tweeting that "she's done more for 9/11 families than the GOP who won't even support healthcare for 1st responders."

Omar's comments have attracted the ire of others on the right.

"Fox and Friends" co-host Brian Kilmeade questioned Omar's loyalty to the United States on a "Fox and Friends" segment Wednesday about the freshman Democrat, saying "you have to wonder if she's an American first."

Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas., called Omar's remark "unbelievable" on Twitter Tuesday.

Ocasio-Cortez, defending Omar, criticized him Thursday, tweeting that he refuses "cosponsor the 9/11 Victim’s Compensation Fund, yet have the audacity to drum resentment towards Ilhan w/completely out-of-context quotes."

"We are getting to a level where this is an incitement of violence against progressive women of color," Ocasio-Cortez told reporters. "We need to call it out for what it is, because this is not normal, and this is not a normal level of political debate or rhetoric. As wild as it can get sometimes, this is something beyond what is normal."

Omar, who has been subjected to death threats, responded to Kilmeade on Twitter, saying he was guilty of a "dangerous incitement" for questioning her loyalty to America.

Fox News had no immediate comment about Kilmeade, the second Fox personality in a month to attract attention for comments about Omar. Fox condemned and suspended Saturday host Jeanine Pirro for two weeks after she wondered aloud whether Omar's use of a Muslim head covering indicated she was a follower of Islamic religious law.

"My love and commitment to our country and that of my colleagues should never be questioned," Omar said via Twitter on Wednesday. "We are ALL Americans."