In the wake of controversial statements made by Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-MN), many activists and leaders have taken a strong stance in support of Rep. Omar. Among the loudest have been Women’s March co-chair Linda Sarsour and members of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Both organizations have rallied supporters to stand with Ilhan Omar, who has recently drawn rebuke from both sides of the aisle after making several anti-Semitic statements.
In defense of Ilhan Omar, CAIR set up a public news conference in Washington D.C. to rally around the controversial member of Congress. Among reporters covering the event was Asra Nomani—a seasoned journalist (formerly of the Wall Street Journal) and anti-extremist activist. Nomani has previously done work advocating for justice after her friend Danny Pearl was taken hostage and killed by Muslim extremists in Pakistan.
According to Asra Nomani, after CAIR’s press conference held in front of the United States Supreme Court, “they walked to House Longworth Building, where I have been reporting for 30-plus years.” She followed to continue coverage on the group’s lobbying.
The activists—led by Linda Sarsour—landed at the door of Rep. Rashida Tlaib. Nomani filmed the exchange, where a man can be heard instructing someone off-camera to get a shot of the crew entering Rashida Tlaib’s office. Speaking in Arabic, Linda Sarsour then instructs members of her entourage to block Nomani from entering the office; her followers comply.
Asra Nomani is an American citizen and Muslim reformer currently working on a book about Muslims in America. She was covering the event as a journalist when she was blocked by other private citizens from entering the office of a member of Congress. She explained how the murder of her friend Danny Pearl inspired her to activism. According to Nomani, “Linda Sarsour and CAIR hate Muslim reformers (and me) so much, they block our rights in America.” One man with the Sarsour entourage told Nomani (on camera) that she wasn’t permitted to enter the office of Rashida Tlaib because she wasn’t invited.
This incident highlights how volatile the political landscape has become for Muslim reformers in the United States. Many Muslim reformers have grown up in countries ruled by Islamic law and are met by American-born activists who have never had to deal with atrocities reformists advocate against.