The U.S. House of Representatives has voted in favour of a proposal by Democrats for the U.S. State Department office to address anti-Muslim bias, after Republican congresswoman Lauren Boebert used an Islamophobic slur against Democratic congresswoman Ilhan Omar. The House supported the bill in a party-line vote of 219-212. Republicans have opposed the bill, calling it “rushed and partisan.”
Authored by Representative Ilhan Omar herself, this bill would create a special envoy for monitoring and fighting Islamophobia. It would also include state-sponsored anti-Muslim violence in the State Department’s annual human rights reports.
“We are in the midst of a staggering rise of anti-Muslim violence and discrimination around the world,” Omar said in the House. “Islamophobia is global in scope and we must lead the global effort to address it.”
Lauren Boebert had referred to Muslim congresswoman Ilhan Omar as a member of a “jihad squad.” It led to Democrats calling for a vote to strip Boebert of her committee assignments, and criticism by fellow Republican Representative Nancy Mace.
During debate on the bill, Republican congressman Scott Perry alleged that Ilhan Omar was “anti-Semitic” and “affiliated with terrorist organizations.” The House chair considered the Republican congressman’s remarks to be inappropriate, as they maligned the reputation of Representative Omar.
The future of the bill is uncertain, with commentators noting that it is unlikely to advance in the Senate. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that this vote will “not be the last word” from the Democratic leaders on Boebert’s behaviour with Omar. The Republican congresswoman had earlier sparked outrage due to a video that she posted on Facebook, where she told viewers about coming across Omar in a House elevator. Boebert made a reference to terror attacks using explosives, insinuating that she was concerned about Omar being so armed. “Well, she doesn’t have a backpack,” Boebert claims to have said. “We should be fine.”
An attempt had been made by Republican leaders to arrange a phone-call between Boebert and Omar, which failed after an apology by the former which was deemed insufficient by many Democrats. Boebert had said that she was apologising “to anyone in the Muslim community I offended,” and the phone conversation was eventually terminated by Omar after it went downhill.