POLITICS

Instagram Won’t Ban Laura Loomer After She Incites Fans To ‘Rise Up’ Against Ilhan Omar

In Instagram posts, Loomer falsely claimed the Muslim congresswoman wants "another 9/11" and stated that "Islam is a cancer."

Instagram said it won’t ban anti-Muslim extremist Laura Loomer from its platform over alarming posts she made this week potentially inciting violence against Muslim congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-Minn).

An Instagram spokesperson said the company has removed one of Loomer’s  Instagram Stories — in which she recorded herself calling Islam “a cancer on humanity” — for violating its hate speech policy. The spokesperson added that if Loomer continues to violate Instagram’s rules, her account could be banned. 

The spokesperson, however, added that Loomer’s multiple other concerning and explicitly bigoted posts can stay on the website and do not violate community guidelines. 

Loomer — a former correspondent for the far-right media outlet The Rebel and a regular contributor to the conspiracy website InfoWars — is a raging bigot whose antics have already led Twitter, Uber and Lyft to ban her. 

She currently has 112,000 followers on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, and nearly 80,000 followers on Facebook itself.

This week, Loomer used her large platform on Instagram to falsely accuse Omar of being a terrorist, deploying anti-Muslim language similar to that in the manifesto by the white supremacist accused of massacring 50 Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand, last month. 

Anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist Laura Loomer incited her followers to "rise up" against Rep. Ilhan Omar, whom Loomer falsely
Anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist Laura Loomer incited her followers to "rise up" against Rep. Ilhan Omar, whom Loomer falsely accused of "pushing for another 9/11." 

On Wednesday, Loomer posted a photo of Omar on Instagram. “After 9/11, we said never again,” Loomer wrote. “Ilhan Omar is only pushing for another 9/11!”

Omar is not, nor has she ever, pushed for another 9/11. Loomer’s wild accusation stems from a patently false claim, pushed by Rupert Murdoch-owned media outlets Fox News and the New York Post, that Omar once downplayed the horror of 9/11. She did not.  

“We need some patriots to rise up and protect our Constitution so we can prevent the establishment of a caliphate,” Loomer wrote in her post Wednesday, clearly urging her followers to target Omar for harassment or worse and comparing the American congresswoman to terror groups like ISIS, which established a so-called caliphate in Iraq and Syria.

In another post about Omar on Wednesday night, Loomer wrote that “Patriots must resist this jihad on our constitution. It’s a crisis. Are Americans just going to sit back and allow terrorists and their representatives to plot our demise from within? This is a national security emergency.”

A well-funded network of anti-Muslim extremists have long pushed the idea that American Muslims are quietly working to destroy the U.S. from within — an idea that mirrors white supremacist conspiracy theories about Jews.

The story Instagram removed, also posted Wednesday, told Loomer’s followers that Islam, a religion of 1.7 billion people, “is a cancer on humanity and Muslims should not be allowed to seek positions of political office in this country.”

In another post on Thursday morning, Loomer wrote that “taking your oath [of office] on the Quran” — as Omar did — “should be illegal.”

“It’s people like Ilhan Omar who jumped up and down with joy in celebration on 9/11,” wrote Loomer, telling an obvious lie. “Her people, people she supports and has never once condemned, killed 3,000 Americans and she’s happy about it.”

In another post the same day, Loomer falsely accused Omar of being friends with the 19 hijackers responsible for the Sept. 11 terror attack.

Perhaps anticipating backlash for those comments, Loomer set her Instagram account to private on Thursday.

Omar — a co-sponsor of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund — is the first Somali American and one of the first Muslim women to serve in U.S. Congress. Since taking office in January, she’s been a target of death threats. Authorities recently arrested a New York man who threatened to kill her. In February, a white supremacist Coast Guard lieutenant was arrested over an alleged plot to massacre leftists. Omar was among those on his hit list.

Loomer’s posts about Omar highlight big tech companies’ continued complicity in providing a platform for bigots to spread white nationalist and anti-Muslim propaganda.  

Earlier this month, Facebook promised to curb hateful content by extending its policies against white supremacy to include posts that praise white nationalism and separatism.

But when HuffPost showed Facebook a blatantly white nationalist video posted to the platform by alt-right activist Faith Goldy, the social media giant said the video did not violate its new policies.

It was only a week after HuffPost published a story about Facebook allowing Goldy to spread her hateful propaganda on its platform that the company decided to ban her. 

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