Rep. Ilhan Omar, one of the leading Democratic congressional newcomers, has praised Bernie Sanders as a president that will fight “genocide” and “western imperialism.”
Speaking at a Sanders rally in Minnesota on Sunday, Omar said she was “beyond honored and excited for a president who will fight against Western imperialism and fight for a just world.”
While it’s not precisely clear what Omar meant by the fight against “imperialism,” she might have been referring to Sanders’ campaign pledges to divert part of the “exorbitant” US defence spending to domestic issues and avoid maintaining “unnecessary overseas military bases.”
"For a long time Bernie was under-estimated, his ideals weren't taken seriously by the establishment because he refused to fall in line and conform to the pressures in Washington." @IlhanMN #BerniesBackInMN pic.twitter.com/K5FfLyzwBf— People for Bernie (@People4Bernie) November 4, 2019
Sanders stood at 19 percent in the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released on Sunday, trailing 4 percent behind Elizabeth Warren and 8 percent behind Joe Biden. Throughout the year, the 78-year-old senator has consistently polled third nationwide.
Omar, 38, entered the rally riding a wave of criticism from the political left for only marking herself “present” for a House vote that overwhelmingly recognised the Ottoman Empire’s genocide against Armenians during World War I.
Omar responded to the critics that she objected not to the substance of the resolution, but to its timing. The bill was passed at a critical time in US-Turkey relationship, two weeks after Ankara launched a military offensive against Syrian-based Kurdish fighters it deems terrorists.
On Sunday, Omar said: “The fight for human rights is undeniable and when we recognize injustices of the past and present – whether it is genocide against Jewish people, Armenians, or Rwandans, or Bosnians, or Native Americans, or more – we recognize, we realize that that recognition isn’t about punishing our political foes, but leading within a moral obligation.”
Omar is a member of a quartert of Democratic female representatives of minority-ethnic backgrounds known as “The Squad.” Three of them – Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib – have endorsed Sanders in recent weeks. The fourth member, Ayanna Presley, is yet to endorse a candidate.
All four have repeatedly clashed with Donald Trump since they took office, largely over his harsh immigration policies.
The US President has repeatedly accused The Squad of hating America; Omar has been targeted in particular for her alleged anti-Semitism. The Minnesota congresswoman openly supports the pro-Palestinian BDS movement and got embroiled in a massive row early this year after suggesting that lobbyists in AIPAC sway US politicians to support Israel.
The scandal prompted the House to vote on a resolution condemning anti-Semitism, and Omar apologised for the wording (but not for the case she made).