Ilhan Omar Returns to Minneapolis for Hero’s Welcome

MINNEAPOLIS — After a week of attacks by President Trump that culminated in a chant of “send her back” at one of his re-election rallies, Representative Ilhan Omar, the Somali-born Democrat from Minnesota, returned to her district on Thursday evening to a hero’s welcome.

About 100 supporters mobbed Ms. Omar at Minneapolis-Saint Paul Airport with shouts of “Welcome home!” and “We have your back!” They waved signs and applauded as the congresswoman struck a defiant tone in the face of Mr. Trump’s increasingly vitriolic rhetoric about her.

“When I said I was the president’s nightmare, well you’re watching it now,” Ms. Omar said through a bullhorn. “We are going to continue to be a nightmare to this president, because his policies are a nightmare to us. And we are not deterred, we are not frightened, we are ready.”

Mr. Trump has latched on to Ms. Omar, one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, as a focal point for rallying his supporters around a re-election campaign that appears destined to be dominated by immigration and nativism. Her colorful hijabs have made her a recognizable new face in the House, and her criticism of Israeli and Trump administration policies has attracted the attention of the president and his allies, and even some Democrats.

More than policy, the willingness of Ms. Omar and three House freshman allies, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna S. Pressley, to fight back has turned the group into a potent new enemy for Mr. Trump and a heroic quartet for liberals.

“It is amazing how the Fake News Media became ‘crazed’ over the chant ‘send her back,’ ” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter Friday, “but is totally calm & accepting of the most vile and disgusting statements made by the three Radical Left Congresswomen.”

At a packed town hall Thursday night in a predominantly black section of Minneapolis, Ms. Omar said she was eager to get beyond the controversy and focus on her job. The subject was Medicare for all, the single-payer government health plan she has embraced, and she made it clear she wanted to segue to a policy discussion.

“It is really great to be home,” she said. “A lot of people are trying to distract us now, but, I want you all to know that we are not going to let them.”

Mr. Trump, however, continued to focus on the issue, and the language. One day after disavowing the “send her back” chant that broke out at his rally on Wednesday in North Carolina, the president was back on Twitter Friday to suggest that the widespread outrage over the phrase — which caused alarm among congressional Republicans and members of his inner circle who prodded him to reject it — had been misplaced.

He groused about the coverage of Ms. Omar’s warm reception upon her return from Washington. “They even covered a tiny staged crowd as they greeted Foul Mouthed Omar in Minnesota,” Mr. Trump wrote, adding that people in the state “can’t stand her and her hatred of our Country.”

Asma Mohammed, the advocacy director for Reviving the Islamic Sisterhood for Empowerment in North Minneapolis and an organizer of the airport gathering, said showing support for Ms. Omar was a way to push back on the president’s targeting of immigrants, Muslims and racial minorities.

“Trump is working to make Muslims, immigrants, refugees and people of color feel afraid because he’s afraid of our collective power, and he’s emboldened white nationalists in the process by making the conversation about who belongs here and who doesn’t,” Ms. Mohammed said. “Welcoming Ilhan back home to Minnesota today was to remind those same people and Trump that we are all here to stay, and that we’re damn proud of our congresswoman.”

“If we’re sending Ilhan back anywhere,” she added, “it’s to Congress.”

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