Poster linking Ilhan Omar to 9/11 terrorist attack sparks outrage
(WSAZ.com) The reverberations of an anti-Muslim poster on display at the West Virginia Capitol rotunda continue, with the House Sergeant at Arms resigning and talk of possible discipline against a lawmaker who allegedly injured a doorkeeper Friday.
The poster consisted of two photos. The upper photo was a picture of the World Trade Center towers during the 9/11 attack. A caption read, "'NEVER FORGET' - YOU SAID.."
Below it was a photo of Minnesota Democratic Congresswoman Omar, wearing a hijab. Omar is Muslim, and was one of two Muslim women elected to Congress. That picture's caption said, "I AM PROOF - YOU HAVE FORGOTTEN."
The anti-Muslim display was outside the House of Delegates chamber as part of a “Republicans Take the Rotunda” event.
Tempers flared in the House chamber when angry Democrats condemned the display.
Del. Michael Angelucci (D-Marion) accused Sergeant at Arms Anne Lieberman of an anti-Muslim slur. According to our crew at a legislative hearing late Friday afternoon, Lieberman has since resigned.
“The Sergeant at Arms of this body had enough nerve to say to us all Muslims are terrorists," Angelucci said. "The Sergeant at Arms of this body that represents the people of the state of West Virginia said all Muslims are terrorists. That’s beyond shameful. And that’s not freedom of speech, that’s hate speech. That has no place in this House, the people’s House, and I am furious. I don’t want to see her representing the people of this great state in this house again. Muslims are not terrorists. Christians have killed people. That doesn’t mean Christians are terrorists. I am a Christian. I am a proud Christian. I am not a terrorist. There’s no room for that hate in this House.”
Republicans defended the display as free speech.
“While I may not agree with everything out there," said Del. Dianna Graves (R-Kanawha), "I do agree that freedom of speech is something we have to protect.”
House Speaker Roger Hanshaw (R-Clay) issued this statement after the heated exchange on the floor:
“The West Virginia House of Delegates unequivocally rejects hate in all of its forms. As we began today’s floor session, we had a series of incidents occur in and outside of our Chamber that absolutely do not reflect the character and civility the people of this state demand of their public servants. Leadership of the House of Delegates is currently working to investigate these incidents to learn firsthand the factual basis of what occurred, and will respond with appropriate action.”