US Representative Ilhan Omar called Donald Trump “fascist” on Thursday as the president sought to distance himself from racist chants heard at his campaign rally on Wednesday night.
“I believe he is fascist,” Omar told reporters on Capitol Hill.
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“I want to remind people that this is what this president and his supporters have turned our country that is supposed to be a country that we allow democratic debate and dissent to take place,” she said. “So this is not about me, this about us fighting for what this country truly should be.”
Her comments came less than 24 hours after a crowd of Trump supporters chanted “send her back” at a Trump campaign rally as the president continued his attacks on Omar and three other congresswomen of colour.
Trump, speaking to reporters at the White House on Thursday, said he “felt a little bit badly about it”, referring to the chants.
“I would say that I was not happy with it. I disagreed with it. But again, I didn’t say that. They did and I disagreed with it,” he said.
But Trump did not stop the crowd, and let the chants continue as he took a long pause.
In a rare vote earlier this week, the House of Representatives condemned Trump’s racist weekend tweets against Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley, in which he told them to “go back” to where they came from. All four are US citizens and all but Omar were born in the US.
The four women on Monday night said they would not be silenced, and said Trump’s tweets and rhetoric are a distraction from the issues they’re working on including, immigration, healthcare and education.
Many politicians, activists and others online came to Omar’s defence under #IStandWithIlhan, which trended on Wednesday and Thursday.
“#IStandWithIlhan against attacks from this racist president,” tweeted Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic presidential hopeful.
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) July 18, 2019
Senator Bernie Sanders, another 2020 Democratic presidential contender, tweeted, “Trump is stoking the most despicable and disturbing currents in our society,” Sanders wrote. “And that very hatred and racism fuels him. We must fight together to defeat the most dangerous president in the history of our country.”
#IStandWithIlhan and am proud to work with her in Congress.
Trump is stoking the most despicable and disturbing currents in our society. And that very hatred and racism fuels him. We must fight together to defeat the most dangerous president in the history of our country.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) July 18, 2019
A similar hashtag – #IStandWithIlhanOmar – trended earlier this year after Trump tweeted an edited video to suggest Omar was dismissive of the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US. After that tweet, Omar reported an increase in death threats.
Ocasio-Cortez on Thursday said Trump’s attacks “put millions of Americans in danger”.
“This is not just about threats to individual members of Congress, but it is about creating a volatile environment in this country through violent rhetoric that puts anyone, like Ilhan, anyone who believes in the rights of all people in danger and I think that he has a responsibility for that environment,” she said.