Rep. Ilhan Omar continues to be an embarrassment and a disgrace for me and other American Muslims with her outrageous, ignorant, anti-Semitic and now anti-American comments.
And while Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, holds herself out as a proud Muslim, she repeatedly projects a distorted and patently Islamist interpretation of Islam – a religion that in reality stands for the values of justice, peace and ethical conduct.
Sadly, Omar gives millions of Americans a false impression of what Islam is and what we Muslims believe and stand for. While she denounces prejudice against Muslims, her aberrant views on Islam fuel prejudice against me and my coreligionists by distorting who we are while defaming and dishonoring the great monotheism of Islam.
Omar’s latest absurd and insulting comment came to light just a few days ago. Describing the horrific Islamist terrorist attacks on America on Sept. 11, 2001 that killed almost 3,000 people and injured more than 6,000 others – including many Muslims – Omar told a Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) fundraiser: “CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something, and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.”
First, Omar betrayed her ignorance, because CAIR was founded in 1994. Second, the congresswoman displayed an appalling and dismissive insensitivity to the worst foreign attack on America in our history, claiming almost 600 more lives than the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.
Omar’s grotesque trivialization of a national tragedy amounts to an explicit denial of 9/11 – a desecration of all the lives erased that awful day. This denial is inexplicable unless she has strong and covert Islamist sympathies.
Tragically, the Sept. 11 attacks continue to take a toll almost 18 years later.
Some estimate more than 2,100 first responders who worked in Ground Zero in New York City in an effort to save lives and then find the deceased after the attacks have died of diseases they incurred. More than 10,000 people have been diagnosed with cancer related to the World Trade Center attacks and over 43,000 have been certified with World Trade Center-related illnesses.
Most of the almost 490,000 Americans who either lived near Ground Zero or responded to the recovery and rebuilding efforts have never enrolled in the government’s health programs. So we don’t know how many more have suffered health problems from the terrorist attack on the twin towers.
I am a physician now working in New York and I’m affiliated with New York University Winthrop Hospital’s World Trade Center Health Program. I see the burden of Sept. 11 on a regular basis, treating brave and selfless first responders who still suffer from complex sleep disorders – including post-traumatic stress – that I specialize in treating.
President Trump responded to Omar’s comments by posting a video on Twitter mixing her words with terrible scenes of the Sept. 11 attacks. His action can be considered insensitive to many 9/11 survivors and family members – including some of my own patients – who can’t view these pictures without experiencing repeat trauma.
However, the president’s exposure of Omar’s hypocrisy and offensive diminishment of 9/11 was both legitimate and necessary.
In her dismissal of Sept. 11, Omar callously erased the deep suffering of every survivor and family I attend, and everyone else still impacted by the terrorist attacks.
Like each person old enough to remember Sept. 11, 2001, the day will be engraved in my mind for as long as I live.
I was working as a physician in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It was 4 p.m. when I turned on my TV and watched the world come to a standstill as I witnessed (along with people around the world) the jet planes go through the World Trade Center, and soon after saw the twin towers collapse.
Mass murder on live TV – an unbelievable nightmare, like a horror film come to life.
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