Omar, who is part of U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez’s anti-Trump “squad”, was met with backlash from conservatives after stating in a speech earlier this year that “some people did something” that day, a line that was taken out of context by her opponents ― including the U.S. President ― who used it to claim she was downplaying the significance of the event.
On Wednesday, Nicholas Haros Jr., who lost his mother, Frances, at the World Trade Center, wore a T-shirt emblazoned with the phrase, invoking Omar’s comments, which he appeared to have found offensive.
“I certainly could not understand the weight of the pain that the victims ... the families of 9/11 must feel,” she said. “But I think it is really important for us to make sure that we are not forgetting the aftermath of what happened after 9/11. Many Americans found themselves now having their civil rights stripped from them.”
Continuing, Omar noted that her comments, which were made during a Council on American-Islamic Relations gathering in March, were intended to point out that the attacks had resulted in intensified suspicion of the Muslim community as a whole, despite the fact that the violence was perpetrated by a small number of individuals.
“And so what I was speaking to was the fact that as a Muslim, not only was I suffering as an American who was attacked on that day, but the next day I woke up as my fellow Americans were now treating me a suspect,” she added.
At the Ground Zero memorial service to honour 9/11 victims, Haros took aim at Omar’s past remarks, stating, “Today I am here to respond to you exactly who did what to whom.”
“Madam, objectively speaking, we know who and what was done,” he said. “There is no uncertainly about that. Why your confusion?”
Despite the scrutiny, Omar said on Sunday that she feels her place in Washington is to initiate “a conversation that others weren’t having” and speak “for people who felt voiceless for a long time.”
“And I think it’s really important for us to recognise that it’s a new Congress. It’s a diverse Congress and we’re not only diverse in our race or ethnicity or religion, but we are also diverse in our perspective, in our pain and our struggles, and in the hopes and dreams that we have, and the kind of America that we want to shape for all of us.”