The global shock after Trump supporters responded to the president’s attacks on Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., a Somali-born Muslim, with frenzied chants of “Send her back!” is showing little sign of abating.
The jarring scene at Wednesday’s rally, which followed President Donald Trump falsely claiming Omar had praised al-Qaeda, inspired the social media hashtag #IStandWithIlhanOmar, which was soon trending on social media in the United States, along with other countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada and Egypt.
On Friday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel became the latest foreign official to openly condemn the comments: “Without question, I reject [Trump’s comments] and stand in solidarity with the congresswomen he targeted.”
In Britain, Home Secretary Sajid Javid made a thinly veiled reference to the chant while giving a speech on extremism. “I know what it’s like to be told to go back to where I came from, and I don’t think they mean Rochdale,” Javid said Friday, referring to the English town where he was born.
Immigration was used “as a proxy for race” by extremists, said Javid, whose parents immigrated to Britain from Pakistan.
Other politicians in Europe had taken to Twitter earlier in the week and warned that the display at the North Carolina political rally had veered into dangerous territory.
“This is what fascism looks like. We must fight it at home and abroad,” tweeted Jess Phillips, a Labour Party lawmaker in the United Kingdom.
“Jesus, what next?” asked British politician Emily Thornberry, while parliamentarian David Lammy said the footage was “chilling,” adding: “Fascism spreads like wildfire. Especially when it comes from the President of the United States of America.”
Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, tweeted after attending a summit for the European Union and Canada that “I feel at home in Montreal for many reasons. Also because, I didn’t hear anyone shouting ‘SEND HIM BACK!'”
Ireland’s foreign minister, Simon Coveney, shared a video of Trump speaking and the crowd chanting, also calling it “chilling” and adding that “fueling hatred based on race is not acceptable in political discourse… history tells us where this leads!”
On Thursday morning, Democratic support for Omar continued to roll in, as Trump’s attacks entered their fifth day.
Earlier in the week, Trump sent out a series of racist tweets targeting Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Omar – telling them to “go back” and fix “the crime infested places from which they came.”
On Twitter, Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., linked Trump’s attacks on Omar to a longer trend of the president making degrading comments about women, such as “lock her up” and “blood coming out of her whatever.”
“But nobody has more respect for women? #IStandWithIlhanOmar” she tweeted.
While Republican reaction was muted, social media users and celebrities condemned Trump’s remarks and expressed support for Omar.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary tweeted late Wednesday that searches for the definition of racism and xenophobia were spiking.
Dozens of British politicians and 14,000 supporters signed a letter of solidarity addressed to the four Democratic congresswomen at the center of the political storm.
“We are disgusted by Donald Trump’s attack on you. His blatant, unashamed racism has appalled people around the world,” the letter stated. “Thank you for showing the world that America can still provide leadership to be proud of, even when the White House has abdicated that role.”
London’s first Muslim mayor, Sadiq Khan, who has himself been the target of Trump’s ire, signed the open letter along with leader of Britain’s opposition party, Jeremy Corbyn.
On Instagram, the #IStandWithIlhan hashtag was trending.
Rapper Cardi B voiced her support by posting a photo of a grinning Omar on Instagram accompanied by a Beyonce-inspired caption.
Actresses Susan Sarandon and Piper Perabo tweeted that they stood with Omar, with the latter calling her “a good mother, citizen, friend and an important member of Congress.”
(c) 2019, The Washington Post · Jennifer Hassan, Kayla Epstein, Adam Taylor