Religious freedom group faces backlash over Ilhan Omar invitation

 April 23, 2023

It appears that far-left Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) will deliver remarks as part of a government-backed religious freedom event on May 1, but controversy over her participation has led to the details of her involvement to be downplayed, perhaps even intentionally hidden by the administration, as PJ Media reports.

The event, now set for May 1, is being hosted by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), a federal government entity with a stated mission “to advance international freedom of religion or belief, by independently assessing and unflinchingly confronting threats to this fundamental right,” something critics suggest in incompatible with Omar's history of incendiary statements about those of the Jewish faith.

Invitation status hidden

According to Robert Spencer, writing for PJ Media, it became known that Omar had been invited to address the USCIRF event billed as focusing on religious freedom violations, along with Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), among others.

Omar's prospective presence at an event of that nature immediately raised eyebrows, and officials with the organization were, according to Spencer, “questioned about this tone-deaf and offensive invitation.”

It was at that point, however, that it became uncertain whether Omar was in fact scheduled to speak, given that her name was seemingly scrubbed from publicity about the event.

According to Spencer, the USCIRF website now shows the event date as having changed from April 25 to May 1 and omits any reference to Omar as a participant, and an inquiry made by a reporter from the Jewish News Syndicate regarding the apparent change was met with a suggestion to visit the aforementioned webpage that neglects to mention the controversial congresswoman.

Conflicting accounts

Despite what looks like the USCIRF's attempts to hide Omar's inclusion in the event, Jeremy Slevin, an advisor to the congresswoman insisted that she was indeed planning to participate, just as initial information seemed to suggest.

“Sorry to burst your bubble, but this story is completely false,” Slevin said, according to Fox News.

“Rep. Omar will be delivering virtual remarks at the event, just like Sen. Rubio,” he added.

Rubio's office was also asked about the event and its list of speakers, according to the Jewish News Syndicate, and Laura Ortiz, a spokesperson for the lawmaker, referred the inquiry to the USCIRF, saying, “They organize the event, not the senator. That's up to their prerogative,” though she also noted, “Marco has been on the record on his disagreements with the congresswoman on multiple occasions.”

“A slap in the face”

Considering Omar's lengthy history of anti-Semitic comments including a claim that Israel has “hypnotized the world, an assertion that Jews have purchased control of Congress, and a declaration that Israel is an “apartheid state” comparable to the Taliban, it is not surprising that news of her participation in the aforementioned event would spark a firestorm.

Joel Griffith of the Heritage Foundation summarized the outrage many are feeling, stating that the idea of the commission hosting someone who advocates for a boycott of the only Middle Eastern nation that affords religious freedom for Christians, Jews, and Muslims at an event promoting the importance of such liberty.

“There is no excuse for any organization that claims to respect religious freedom to invite Ilhan Omar to speak. This unjustly allows her to rehabilitate her image,” Griffith said. “I think that the commission owes an apology, both to our ally Israel and to those of us who care so deeply about this.”

Griffith added, “To invite her is a slap in the face of the people who put their lives on the line,” and unfortunately, this is far from the first time an arm of the administration has been guilty of such an affront, and it likely will not be the last.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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