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Muslim US lawmaker apologises for remarks which triggered anti-Semitism row

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

US lawmaker Illhan Abdullahi Omar, one of the first two Muslim women in the US Congress, has "unequivocally" apologised for her remarks which sparked an anti-Semitism row and drew widespread condemnation including from who termed it a "terrible statement".

Omar, who was elected to the last November, on Sunday in a tweet questioned the financial relationship between the powerful Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and members of the

While reacting to a Republican critic, Omar, 37, said "It's all about the Benjamins baby," referring to American USD 100 bills featuring the likeness of Benjamin

"Anti-Semitism is real, and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes," Omar, the first Somalian American lawmaker, said Monday.

"My intention is never to offend my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole. We have to always be willing to step back and think through criticism, just as I expect people to hear me when others attack me for my identity. This is why I unequivocally apologise," she said, after top Democratic leaders sought an apology from her on her tweets.

On Monday, Trump told reporters abroad that the apology was not enough.

"I think she should be ashamed of herself. I think it was a terrible statement and I don't think her apology was adequate," he said.

Asked what she should say, Trump replied, "she knows what to say".

Democratic leaders led by described her tweets as highly offensive.

"We are and will always be strong supporters of in because we understand that our support is based on shared values and strategic interests. Legitimate criticism of Israel's policies is protected by the values of free speech and democratic debate that the and share," they said.

"But Congresswoman Omar's use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel's supporters is deeply offensive. We condemn these remarks and we call upon Congresswoman Omar to immediately apologise for these hurtful comments," Democratic leaders said.

Congressman had an impassioned, face to face conversation with Omar during which he expressed offense to her recent anti-Semitic tropes and extended an invitation for future discussions aimed at fostering a better understanding between Jewish and Muslim members of

"I strongly condemn anti-Semitism in all its forms, including comments made by my colleague that - purposefully or not - have propagated dangerous and destructive stereotypes of the Jewish people and the State of Israel.

"As elected leaders, it is our collective responsibility to set standards of respect and elevate understanding between the communities we represent," he said.

Omar and her Democratic colleague from were the first two Muslim women elected to the during the last November mid-term polls.

"As Americans and Jews, we expect our politicians to condemn bigotry, not to fuel it. Words matter. At a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise in the US and abroad, Rep Omar is promoting the ugly, anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that Jews have an outsized influence over politics," said Jonathan A Greenblatt, of the

Omar was elected to the from on a ticket last November.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, February 12 2019. 10:10 IST
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