Minnesota Democrat Ilhan Omar has been the subject of widespread online rumor and misinformation, much of it driven by Islamophobic sentiment, since her successful 2016 campaign for a seat in the Minnesota House of Representatives.
These attacks continued two years later, during the 2018 election in the state’s 5th Congressional District, which she won, thus becoming the first Somali-American and (along with Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib) one of the two first Muslim women elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.
In November 2018, social media users shared an inflammatory quotation attributed to Omar, one that presented her as a Muslim extremist with a violent and tyrannical view of non-Muslims:
“I am America’s hope and the president’s nightmare.”
“I think all white men should be put in chains as slaves because they will never submit to Islam”: Ilhan Omar.
The first quotation included in the meme was authentic, but the contentious second one was no more than a malicious fabrication. Omar did once say “I am America’s hope and the president’s nightmare,” in reference to President Donald Trump, while discussing her own personal history as a female Muslim refugee during a 13 July episode of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. During that program, host Trevor Noah asked the following:
Your story is one of the most fascinating I have ever come across. To be in the position you’re in is one that is already unique, but your story is even more unique. You are someone who is all too familiar with being a refugee, you’re from Somalia, you’re also a Muslim person, you’re also a woman. You are everything that President Trump seems to be against, and you are in government. What’s the plan?
Omar responded by saying, “I am America’s hope and the president’s nightmare.”
However, we found no record of Omar’s ever having called for white men to be bound in chains or enslaved for refusing to convert to Islam (or of her making any other remotely similar statement) — not in the July 2017 Daily Show interview, or in the September 2017 Time magazine interview which was the source of the photograph used in the meme, or anywhere else.
The second quotation is no more or less than a malicious, Islamophobic fabrication which could stoke fear or anger against Omar and other Muslims in the United States.
Golden, Erin. “Ilhan Omar Makes History, Becoming 1st Somali-American Elected to U.S. House.”
Associated Press. 6 November 2018.
Time. “Firsts: The Legislator — Ilhan Omar.”
18 September 2017.