Omar Went to Istanbul for Conference With Left-Wing Activists

Thursday, March 14, 2019
By Paul Martin

Congresswoman appeared alongside ‘abortions beyond laws and borders’ group

BY: Elizabeth Harrington
March 14, 2019

Ilhan Omar attended a 2017 conference in Istanbul with left-wing advocates, including a pro-abortion group that calls for “abortions beyond laws and borders,” and activists who aim to “challenge patriarchal structures.”

Rolling Stone recently lauded the congresswoman, who has repeatedly made anti-Semitic comments, as “everything Trump is trying to ban.” Omar told the magazine she was afraid to leave the country in early 2017 after President Donald Trump signed an executive order restricting travel from seven Middle Eastern countries the administration identified as terrorist hotbeds.

“I had just gotten sworn in [to the Minnesota Legislature] two weeks before,” Omar said, remarking on the executive order 13769, signed on Jan. 27, 2017. “There was lots of chaos, people being stopped at the airports. I had a flight scheduled a week after to speak at a human-rights conference in Turkey. I didn’t know whether I could go.”

“My father said, ‘I looked at the lineup at this human-rights conference—they’re risking everything. You are not gonna sit home,'” Omar said. “I ended up going.”

The conference was in Istanbul, Turkey, which was not affected by the travel ban. Nevertheless, Omar used her upcoming appearance at the International Human Rights Defenders Conference, which was organized by the local Turkish government and the British Embassy in Ankara, as a cudgel to attack the president.

“As an elected official Ilhan Omar has some privilege but she expressed her own concerns for not wanting to leave the country for a speaking engagement in Turkey that will occur in a few days,” according to Mshale, an African community newspaper based in Minneapolis, which reported on a protest Omar organized against the travel ban in January 2017. “After already dealing with profiling and extra scrutiny Omar said she is not sure if leaving the country is worth the risk of possibly not being able to return immediately after her engagement.”

“[Omar] says she’s reconsidering traveling to Turkey for an upcoming speaking engagement,” the Associated Press reported at the time. “Turkey is not on the list of countries in Trump’s order, but Omar fears she’ll run into trouble with immigration officials when she returns home.”

Omar seemingly had no trouble, and attended the conference held at the Nazım Hikmet Culture and Art House in Istanbul on Feb. 4. She gave an interview while overseas to Kurdistan 24, bashing the president’s executive order.

The agenda for the conference, organized by the Şişli Municipality, lists Omar as the first member of the U.S. Congress to wear a headscarf, according to a loose translation.

“In particular, the conference will focus on the fight against discrimination based on gender,” according to a write up two days before the event.

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