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Omar defends comments after criticism from 9/11 mourner

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Image: Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., speaks outside of the Capitol on July 25,
Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., speaks outside of the Capitol on July 25, 2019. -
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J. Scott Applewhite AP file
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Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., sought on Sunday to clarify a comment she made about the September 11th terror attacks after one mourner referenced the mark during a speech on Wednesday at a Manhattan memorial ceremony.

"9/11 was an attack on all Americans," Omar told CBS's "Face the Nation." "It was an attack on all of us. And I certainly could not understand the weight of the pain that the victims of the families of 9/11 must feel. But I think it is really important for us to make sure that we are not forgetting, right, the aftermath of what happened after 9/11."

"Many Americans found themselves now having their civil rights stripped from them," she continued. "And so what I was speaking to was the fact that as a Muslim, not only was I suffering as an American who was attacked on that day, but the next day I woke up as my fellow Americans were now treating me a suspect."

At that New York memorial Wednesday, the annual gathering where the names of each person killed in the World Trade Center attack are read, Nicholas Haros Jr. of New Jersey took the stage wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with "some people did something," highlighting a past remark from Omar.

"Today I am here to respond to you, exactly who did what to whom," Haros, who lost his mother, Francis Haros, in the attack, said. "We know who and what was done, there's no uncertainty about that."

Haros also called out the rest of "The Squad," a group of progressive freshman congresswomen of color that include Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass, and Omar.

"Our constitutional freedoms were attacked and our nation's founding on Judeo-Christian principles were attacked," Haros said. "That's what some people did — got that now? We are here today, Congresswoman, to tell you and 'the squad' just who did what to whom."

Nick Haros, left, reads victim names during ceremonies commemorating the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in Lower Manhattan on Sept. 11, 2019.
Nick Haros, left, reads victim names during ceremonies commemorating the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in Lower Manhattan on Sept. 11, 2019.Brendan McDermid

During a March speech at a Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) event, Omar highlighted how many American Muslims saw their civil liberties curtailed in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

"Here's the truth," Omar said. "For far too long we have lived with the discomfort of being a second-class citizen and, frankly, I'm tired of it, and every single Muslim in this country should be tired of it. CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties."

"So you can't just say that today someone is looking at me strange and that I am trying to make myself look pleasant," she added. "You have to say that this person is looking at me strange, I am not comfortable with it, and I am going to talk to them and ask them why. Because that is the right you have."

A representative for Omar later said she misspoke about CAIR's founding. The organization was established in 1994 but expanded its civil rights advocacy after 9/11.

On Wednesday, Omar tweeted, "September 11th was an attack on all of us. We will never forget the thousands of Americans who lost their lives in the largest terror attack on U.S. soil."