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Rep. Ilhan Omar calls for unity as some Texas Republicans scoff

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar warned against elected officials who fuel Islamophobia and pit religious groups against each other at an Iftar dinner Saturday night in Austin, just days after Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller called on Austin Mayor Steve Adler not to attend the event.
“It is through strength and unity that we push back, and that is what this night is all about,” said Omar, D-Minnesota. “Mayor Adler and the Muslim community knew that the best way to push back when people seek to divide our communities is by coming together and affirming that there is more that unites us than divides us.”
Omar, 37, was the keynote speaker at the Annual Austin Citywide Iftar Dinner, a ceremonial meal to break the fast during Ramadan. Adler, who has attended each of the previous city-wide Iftars, was the guest of honor.
In November, Omar made history when she and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Michigan, became the first Muslim women elected to Congress. Since then, Omar has stirred controversy with comments seen as anti-Semitic and remarks viewed as dismissive of the 9/11 attacks.
Omar’s critics accuse her of playing into anti-Semitic stereotypes when criticizing Israel and its supporters. In 2012, she tweeted that “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel,” and later apologized for her “use of the word ‘hypnotize’ and the ugly sentiment it holds.”
On Tuesday, Miller called on Adler, who is Jewish, to stay home and suggested replacing Omar’s participation with Jewish community leaders.
“It’s not inclusive to have a keynote speaker at a dinner who has repeatedly attacked the Jewish faith and its adherents,” Miller said in a statement. “Mayor Adler should help Austin stay true to its roots and use this opportunity as a teaching moment for Muslims, Jews, Christians and those of other faiths to come and break bread together in the spirit of unity and love, not hate.”
More than two dozen protestors and counter-protestors gathered outside the event. Some danced to drums while holding a banner reading “Jews stand with Ilhan,” while a handful of others stood quietly in body armor, and openly carrying rifles.
During the keynote address, Omar said hate against Muslims is on the rise everywhere — including Texas. Mosques in Texas regularly face death threats, and Austin has seen a rise in hate speech against Muslims, she said.
The attacks that Muslims face are “the same as the ones that Jews face every single day,” she said.
“Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are two sides of the same bigoted coin,” Omar said. “Attacks on faiths are linked, and we must confront them together.”