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No, Somali American (and Muslim) US congresswoman didn’t say ‘all white men should be put in chains’

“I am America’s hope and the president’s nightmare. I think all white men should be put in chains as slaves because they will never submit to Islam.”

A meme attributing this quote to new US member of congress Ilhan Omar has been doing the rounds on Facebook – even in South Africa.

Omar represents Minnesota’s fifth congressional district in the house of representatives. Sworn into office in January 2019, she’s the first Somali American and one of the first two Muslim women elected to the US congress.

Target of disinformation

Omar, who fled conflict in Somalia as a child and lived for years in a refugee camp, was widely celebrated as a symbol of hope. But that hasn’t stopped her becoming a target of disinformation. The meme is just one example.

As fact-checkers at Snopes and Politifact point out, the first sentence of the quote is genuine.

In July 2017, Omar appeared on The Daily Show, a satirical TV show hosted by South Africa’s Trevor Noah. As they discussed her unique background, Noah said: “You are someone who is all too familiar with being a refugee. You’re from Somalia, you’re also a Muslim person, you’re also a woman. You are everything that President Trump seems to be against.”

Omar replied, “I am America’s hope and the president’s nightmare”.

‘Islamophobic fabrication’

But nowhere in the interview does she say white men should be put into chains for their resistance to Islam. Nor has the quote appeared in any other news articles or interviews. This includes Omar’s September 2017 Time magazine interview. She featured on the cover, and that’s the image used in the meme.

Snopes’ Dan MacGuill called the second sentence an “Islamophobic fabrication which could stoke fear or anger against Omar and other Muslims in the United States”.

With no credible evidence to support the meme, Politifact rates it “pants on fire” – an outright lie. - Africa Check (08/03/19)  


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