Somali-American politician Ilhan Omar denies being anti-Semitic

Somali-American politician Ilhan Omar has denied being anti-Semite after Jewish groups claimed a 2012 tweet accusing Israel of “evil doings” amounted to anti-Semitism.

Ilhan, who made history in 2016 by becoming the first Somali-American legislator in the US, said on Twitter that criticizing Israel did not mean she hated Jews.

In the 2012 tweet in November, the Somali-American state representative wrote that “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel. #Gaza #Palestine #Israel”.

The tweet came two days after the Israeli army began an operation in Gaza.

In an interview with ABC News, Ilhan addressed the accusations of anti-Semitism from conservative critics.

“These accusations are without merit,” she said. “They are rooted in bigotry toward a belief about what Muslims are stereotyped to believe.”

She is running to succeed Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison, who was the first Muslim elected to the Congress. Ellison is running for attorney general in Minnesota and is not seeking re-election.

A tweet from a Twitter user with the handle @shabbosgoy called her a “proud Jew hater” after she made a brief appearance in the music video of the pop group Maroon 5’s song “Girls Like You.”

Omar responded in a tweet: “Drawing attention to the apartheid Israeli regime is far from hating Jews. You are a hateful sad man, I pray to Allah you get the help you need and find happiness.” She added: “Well you know, if a Muslim says something negative about Israeli government, they must hate Jews. Didn’t you get that memo?”

Ilhan is running for Congress to represent Minnesota’s fifth Congressional District which has a large Muslim and Somali population.

Ilhan, who proudly wears the Hijab, arrived in the US at a young age after living in a Kenyan refugee camp following her escape from the Somali civil war, according to US media reports.

She is currently a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives.

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