Far-right Republican US Rep Lauren Boebert has offered an apology to “anyone in the Muslim community” she offended after video captured her suggesting that US Rep Ilhan Omar, among one of two Muslim women in Congress, was mistaken for a terrorist at the US Capitol.
“I apologize to anyone in the Muslim community I offended with my comment about Rep Omar,” said a statement from the Twitter account belonging to the office of the Colorado congresswoman.
“I have reached out to her office to speak with her directly. There are plenty of policy differences to focus on without this unnecessary distraction,” she said.
In a video showing her addressing a group of supporters, Rep Boebert criticised what she has called the “jihad squad” in Congress, claiming that she and a member of her staff were in an elevator as a US Capitol Police officer reached for the door as it closed.
“What’s happening? I look to my left, and there she is: Ilhan Omar,” she said. “And I said, well, she doesn’t have a backpack, we should be fine.”
She added: “So we only had one floor to go. I said, ‘Oh look, the jihad squad decided to show up for work today.’”
Rep Omar, the first Somali American elected to Congress, responded to the video on Thursday after it spread across social media.
“Fact, this buffoon looks down when she sees me at the Capitol, this whole story is made up,” she said. “Sad she thinks bigotry gets her clout.”
She added: “Anti-Muslim bigotry isn’t funny [and] shouldn’t be normalized. Congress can’t be a place where hateful and dangerous Muslims tropes get no condemnation.”
“Normalizing this bigotry not only endangers my life but the lives of all Muslims. Anti-Muslim bigotry has no place in Congress,” she said.
Michigan Democratic US Rep Rashida Tlaib, who also is Muslim, said that Rep Boebert’s “pathetic racist lies will not only endanger the life of [Rep Omar] but will increase hate crimes towards Muslims.”
“The continued silence [and] inaction towards this hate-filled colleague and others is enabling violence. It must stop,” she said on Twitter.
Rep Boebert was widely criticised for referring to Rep Omar as a member of the “jihad squad” during a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives during during whether far-right Republican congressman Paul Gosar should be censured for posting an anime clip depicting the killing of US Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Her latest remarks have prompted more calls for her censure and removal from committee assignments in the House.
In February, House Democrats and several Republicans voted to remove far-right US Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene from her committee assignments following antisemitic and anti-Muslim remarks on social media as well as her amplification of violent conspiracy theories and endorsement of political executions.