DENVER (AP) — Colorado Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert apologized Friday for using anti-Muslim language in describing an encounter she said she’d recently had with Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.
In her apology, Boebert didn’t address Omar’s criticism that Boebert made up her story about the encounter at the U.S. Capitol.
Boebert tweeted that “I apologize to anyone in the Muslim community I offended with my comment about Rep. Omar. I have reached out to her office to speak with her directly. There are plenty of policy differences to focus on without this unnecessary distraction.”
According to a video clip posted by a Twitter account called PatriotTakes, Boebert made the remarks during the current holiday break. In it, she says she and a staffer were taking a Capitol elevator when she saw an alarmed Capitol police officer running toward them. She said she turned to her left and spotted Omar standing beside them.
“Well, she doesn’t have a backpack. We should be fine,” Boebert recalled saying, drawing laughs from her audience. “And I said, ‘Oh, look, the jihad squad decided to show up for work today.’ “
“Fact, this buffoon looks down when she sees me at the Capitol, this whole story is made up,” Omar tweeted late Thursday. “Sad she thinks bigotry gets her clout.”
“Anti-Muslim bigotry isn’t funny and shouldn’t be normalized,” Omar continued. “Congress can’t be a place where hateful and dangerous Muslim tropes get no condemnation.”
Telephone calls and emails seeking comment from Boebert and Omar weren’t immediately returned Friday.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations condemned Boebert’s remarks in a Friday statement urging GOP House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy and other Republican leaders to repudiate Boebert’s remarks.
It faulted Boebert’s allusion to a backpack as an “Islamophobic smear that all Muslims are terrorists,” as well as her use of the term “jihad squad.”
Edward Ahmed Mitchell, CAIR’s national deputy director, told CNN on Friday that “to make this disgusting joke, misuse an Islamic term, is beyond the pale.” Mitchell explained that “jihad” is a sacred term referring to “any struggle taken up for the sake of God,” including charity work and fighting for social justice.
Omar and Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib, all first elected to Congress in the Democratic wave election of 2018 , sometimes refer to themselves as “the squad.”