GOP congresswoman apologizes for jihad joke

US Representative Lauren Boebert (R-Colorado) has apologized for a joke portraying Democrat colleague Ilhan Omar (Minnesota) as a potential terrorist, saying she created an “unnecessary distraction.”

“I apologize to anyone in the Muslim community I offended with my comment about Representative Omar,” Boebert said on Friday in a Twitter post. “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.”

The comments at issue – captured in a viral video that was posted on Thursday – came in a Thanksgiving holiday gathering with supporters, where Boebert quipped about sharing an elevator with Omar at the US Capitol. The congresswoman described an apparently fictional incident in which a police officer ran toward the elevator and tried unsuccessfully to stop the door from closing.

“I look to my left, and there she is, Ilhan Omar,” Boebert said. “I said, well, she doesn’t have a backpack. We should be fine.” She added that she then told Omar, “Oh look, the Jihad Squad decided to show up for work today.”

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Lauren Boebert speaks during a news conference outside the US Capitol. July 29, 2021. © Reuters / Elizabeth Frantz
‘Jihad squad’ joke about Ilhan Omar kicks up a storm

The video stirred online outrage and promoted calls for Boebert to be censured by Congress and stripped of her House committee assignments. Omar called Boebert a “buffoon” and said “hateful and dangerous Muslim tropes” can’t be allowed in Congress without condemnation.

Omar and Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan), the first Muslim women elected to Congress, are part of a group of progressive lawmakers known as “the Squad.” Tlaib said Boebert’s “pathetic, racist lies” will endanger Omar and cause more anti-Muslim hate crimes.

During a House debate earlier this month, Boebert referred to Omar as “the Jihad Squad member from Minnesota” and accused her of praising terrorists.

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