Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib said Sunday that she believes Islamophobia “is still very present on both sides of the aisle” in Congress.
The remark from Tlaib, who represents Michigan, came as she was discussing criticism aimed at Rep. Ilhan Omar, who, along with Tlaib, serves as one of two Muslim women in Congress. Omar faced scrutiny in February and March for controversial comments she made about Israel. In the wake of her comments, the Minnesota Democrat also became the subject of death threats.
“I pause and think to myself ‘is it because she’s a black American and she’s Muslim?’ And so that’s where I pause and say to myself, ‘Is there an issue here?’ And I guess our mere presence there. The fact that now there’s not only one but now three Muslim Americans serving in Congress,” Tlaib said to CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”
Rep. Andre Carson, an Indiana Democrat who has served in Congress since 2008, also identifies as Muslim.
“That our mere presence is going to able to possibly break down any of these kinds of racialized, you know, opinions, this kind of Islamophobia that I do feel like is still very present on both sides of the aisle. And I think my colleagues are not seeing that as an attack. It’s just saying that we just have a lot of work to do,” she said.
“And I can tell you I’ve been there long enough to see that there are some issues there – again, on the other side of the aisle – that continue to be held – they’re being held unaccountable,” Tlaib added.
Tlaib, who is also the first Palestinian-American congresswoman, said that she and Omar “want to be heard, and we want to be seen beyond whatever these kinds of labels that people like to put on us.”
“And I think we just become an easier target for folks. And that’s what worries me,” she said.