United Nations, April 8, 2019: American advocacy group and politicians have accused President Donald Trump of stoking Islamophobia after a supporter was arrested for ‘threatening to kill’ one of the first Muslim women to be elected to the US Congress.
Patrick Carlineo, from Addison, New York, was arrested on Friday and charged with making a threatening phone call to Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s office.
Ms Omar, 37, who is of Somali origin, is a Democrat from Minnesota.
“The political environment, led by an Islamophobe in the White House, has normalized hate speech and emboldened bigots in their actions,” Afaf Nasher, executive director of the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY), said Sunday.
“The rising threat of Islamophobia and white supremacy must be taken seriously,” he added. CAIR is the U.S. largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy group.
Nasher expressed relief that law enforcement tracked down Carlineo, 55, who allegedly told one of Congresswoman Omar’s staffers: “Do you work for the Muslim Brotherhood? Why are you working for her, she’s an (expletive) terrorist. I’ll put a bullet in her (expletive) skull.”
While being questioned by the FBI after the incident, “Carlineo told the agents he is a patriot, that he loves President Trump, and hates radical Muslims in government,” the Elmira Star Gazette reported Friday, citing the complaint.
New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez later linked Fox News to the threat by Carlineo. She drew a direct link with controversial remarks made by presenter Jeanine Pirro, who last month attacked Congresswoman Omar’s wearing of the hijab, asking if it was as a result of ‘her adherence to sharia law, which in itself is antithetical to the United States constitution’.
Ocasio-Cortez wrote in a tweet on Saturday: ‘Understand when Jeanine Pirro goes on Fox [and] rallies people to think hijabs are threatening, it leads to this.’ She also appealed to people to ‘talk policy, not personal’.
Just hours after Carlineo’s arrest, Trump then mocked Congresswoman Omar in front of an audience of Jewish Republicans. Sarcastically pretending to thank Congresswoman Omar for her support of Israel, he said: ‘Oh, I forgot. She doesn’t like Israel, I forgot, I’m sorry. No, she doesn’t like Israel, does she?’
After last month’s shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, that killed 50 people, Congresswoman Omar accused Trump of whipping up the hatred that was behind such violence. She said Trump was a president who ‘publicly says Islam hates us, who fuels hate against Muslims, who thinks it is OK to speak about a faith and a whole community in a way that is dehumanizing, vilifying’.
Muslim groups in America have warned that the heated rhetoric around Islam in general and Congresswoman Omar in particular, is creating a dangerous climate