Rep. Ilhan Omar has faced backlash for apparently trying to discredit an Iranian journalist who has criticized the Islamist regime defended President Donald Trump’s Iran policy.
On Monday, the Minnesota Democrat retweeted a post questioning the journalistic integrity of Masih Alinejad — and added a “thinking face” emoji. The writer of the tweet, Eli Clifton of the the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, an anti-interventionist think tank, accused Alinejad and “the mainstream media” of failing to disclose that she works for the Voice of America Persian Service.
Alinejad has triggered backlash from Trump critics by arguing that few Iranians are really mourning the killing of Quds Force commander Gen. Qasem Soleimani in a Jan. 3 airstrike ordered by the president. In aWashington Post op-edMonday, she said that the mass funerals in the streets of Iran are staged by the regime and that many Iranians “think Soleimani was a war criminal.”
However, she said, “Western journalists rarely reach out to them,” showing “unwarranted gullibility toward the official version of events.”
Masih Alinejad fires back at Ilhan Omar
Alinejad responded Friday to Omar’s attack with 10-tweet blast, revealing that she has repeatedly reached out to Omar for help after the Iranian regime targeted members of her family, including imprisoning her brother. She faulted Omar for not responding to her outreach and for staying silent about Iran’s many “human rights abuses,” as well as itsdowning of a Ukrainian passenger planelast week, apparently by mistake.
“Ilhan Omar, when my innocent brother was recently taken hostage by the regime, solely due to my advocacy of civil rights for Iran, I reached out to you, expecting solidarity from you. However, you were silent. You gave no reaction,” she said. “After months of silence, you instead chose to amplify a smear campaign against me, a fellow woman of color. Your only comments to all these human rights abuses is to repeat Islamic Republic propaganda against me.”
Alinejad, an anti-headscarf activist who last year suedIran for its treatment of her family, went on to defend her contract work for VOA. She said that it was “created to counter the propaganda of authoritarian adversaries like the Soviet Union.”
“By bullying a freelance journalist like me, you are empowering the Revolutionary Guards to put more pressure on my family,” she said.
However, Alinejad noted, “I’ve also condemned the Islamic Republic’s ban on Iranian dissidents that prevented people like me from going home” and its other “cruel policies.”
“Yet, when I divulge the repression of the Islamic Republic, attacks against me proliferate by the regime & their supporters in the West,” she said. “I’d have never imagined that one day a member of Congress, a fellow woman of colour, would join with my oppressors in trying to defame me.”
1-Earlier this week, Rep Ilhan Omar shared a defamatory article about me on social media by a Koch-Brothers funded “think tank” co-founded by a known sympathizer of the Iranian regime.
Actress Nazanin Boniadi agreed, saying, “This piece is a defamatory hit job against @AlinejadMasih, a journalist who is already facing death and rape threats and whose brother has been taken hostage by the IRI to silence her. Why is a member of the U.S. Congress — a female member at that — endorsing it?”
This piece is a defamatory hit job against@AlinejadMasih, a journalist who is already facing death and rape threats and whose brother has been taken hostage by the IRI to silence her. Why is a member of U.S. Congress — a female member at that — endorsing it?
Rep. Dan Crenshaw, a Texas Republican, spoke for many in the GOP when he accusedOmar and other Democrats of “American self-loathing.”
Over the weekend, Alinejad’s take on Iranian public sentiment was partially vindicated, when hundreds of protesters took to the streets to call for an end to the Islamic Republic. According to videos posted to social media, crowdschanted sloganslike, “Soleimani was a murderer, his leader is also a murderer!,” “Death to the dictators” and “They are lying that our enemy is America, our enemy is right here.”