A Freudian slip is embarrassing because for an instant something we hide is revealed to others. Maybe it’s suppressing bigoted and prejudiced feelings that we know are unacceptable in the wider society, but in a moment of stress and thoughtlessness, this dark side of who we are pops out.
Recently, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (MN-D) had her own Freudian slip. I’m calling it her “Hijabi Slip,” because it relates to her confessions of deep Islamic religious piety. The slip appeared on her Twitter feed reacting to one from a Retawa Agnihotri, who quoted from the Qur’an.
She was apparently alluding to accusations of marital and sexual improprieties against Congresswoman Omar that she had denied. This is the history. In October, 2019, Omar filed for divorce from Ahmed Hirsi, the father of her three children. They had been separated since 2008. While separated, she married Ahmed Nur Said Elmi, but got a divorce later through their Islamic traditions. There were allegations that Omar married Elmi, “her brother,” in order to grant him an immigration status.
Those matters imply a division between Omar’s reality and appearance. The congresswoman’s response to the Islamic accusation from Agnihotri is her Freudian slip. Omar, like most Muslim politicians in the U.S, poses as thoroughly modern, secular, and politically progressive.
However, a different image appears in her tweeted response to Agnihotri. She did not reply with a secular western defense based on American cultural norms. Instead, Omar shot back what sounded more like a Salafi jurist in an Islamic state.
She tweeted, “And those who accuse chaste women, and produce not four witnesses, flog them with eighty stripes, and reject their testimony forever. They indeed are the Faasiqoon (liars, rebellious, disobedient to Allah).” (Quran 24:4)
This drives to the heart of the issue: To what degree is a person, like congresswoman Omar, hiding deeply held religious beliefs for her political expediency?
Imagine if a Jewish Congressperson, when in a conflict regarding the Sabbath, chastising by using the scriptural injunction that those violating the Sabbath should be stoned to death (Numbers 15: 32- 36).
I am not in any way endorsing a “McCarthyite” Muslim scare that alleges loyalties to foreign powers in Congresswoman Omar or in Muslim politicians. I am, however, pointing out that some Muslim politicians have double-sided thinking and personalities. One side presents a secular Western persona when it is expedient. The other side harbors convictions that are hostile to American values and social norms. Omar’s Hijabi Slip exposes a deeper truth about how she thinks, and what she really believes.
It is fair to say that Congresswoman Omar has disappointed many American Muslims who want a better image of Islam in the American public. Her duplicitous behavior reveals U.S. Islamists at work to radicalize American Muslim communities and normalize Sharia law in America.
Darrell Pack is an Arabist and a member of the Islamic Reform Forum is Illinois.
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