A scandal hit Virginia school board is now facing calls to ditch a member who claimed a moment of silence to mark the anniversary of the terror attacks would cause harm to minorities who faced persecution as a result of the terror attack.
On the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks members of the Fairfax County School Board entertained a resolution for a moment of silence. It was intended to honor the first responders who risked their lives to save countless lives, as well as the the nearly 3,000 victims who died and those who were injured as a result of the terrorist attacks carried out that day.
But outspoken board member Abrar Omeish, who has previously sparked outrage for alleged anti-Semitic comments and encouraging high schoolers to remember ‘jihad’, voted against the resolution, saying it was not ‘anti-racist’ and failed to address ‘state-sponsored traumas.’
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The Fairfax County School Board has been called to ditch board member Abrar Omeish (pictured) after she claimed that a 9/11 moment of silence ’causes harm’
Omeish’s speech caused a parent to have an outburst and storm out as she yelled at the board ‘Its a sham, its a show, enjoy it!’
‘I vote against this today, because our omission of these realities causes harm. We’re levitating a traumatic event without sufficient cultural competence,’ she said.
‘The token phrasing around 9/11 is ‘Never Forget.’ As a nation we remember a jarring event, no doubt, but we chose to forget, as this resolution does, the fear, the ostracization, and the collective blame felt by Arab Americans, American Muslims, Sikhs, and Hindus and all brown or other individuals that have been mistaken for Muslims since that day over the past two decades.’ she added.
‘Why are we forgetting the experience of these families, their traumas?’ Omeish asked.
She later added: ‘I hope we can include these components in our broader anti-racist, [and] anti-bias work.
He speech saw a rebuke issued by fellow board member Dr Ricardy Anderson, who accused Omeish of trying to derail a motion that had previously been discussed.
And while Omeish voted against the motion, it was ultimately passed thanks to votes from all other members of the board.
It also sparked fury with a parent in attendance.
‘I’d expect that no parent can speak up to this, we are restricted about how..’ she said before she was interrupted by board member Stella Pekarsky who asked her to ‘please sit down and stay quiet.’
Omeish, (pictured) who is the sole Muslim member on the Virginia school board, is no stranger to controversy
The Fairfax County School Board was entertaining a resolution for a moment of silence to honor the victims of 9/11 on the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks
The woman screamed inaudibly and was met with applause from other parents seated in the auditorium.
She was captured grabbing her purse and yelling ‘Its a sham, its a show, enjoy it!’ as she walked out of the auditorium.
Omeish’s comments even led to a call from a local paper to censure and remove her from the school board.
‘As Fairfax County School Board Members, you must immediately issue a public statement separating yourselves from the hateful and callous rhetoric of your colleague and hold Ms. Omeish accountable for her words and actions, once and for all,’ the Fairfax County Times said in an op-ed.
On Saturday, it emerged that 16 local education groups have also signed a letter addressed to the paper calling on Omeish to quit.
Campaigner Asra Nomani – who is also Muslim – led condemnation of Omeish, and tweeted: ’16 groups send a @fairfaxtimes letter to @fpcpsnews School Board: A Call to Censure and Remove Abrar Omeish. They cite her hateful + culturally repugnant rhetoric. She voted “No” to honor 9/11 victims + launched into a self-absorbed tirade.’
Omeish, who is the sole Muslim member on the Virginia school board, is no stranger to controversy.
This summer she called on graduating high school students to remember ‘jihad’ at their commencement as she warned they were entering a world of, ‘racism, extreme versions of individualism and capitalism, [and] white supremacy.’
In English, she told them that: ‘The world sees the accolade, the diploma, the fruit of all your years yet be reminded of the detail of your struggle.’
But when she repeated the speech in Arabic, she told students to remember their ‘jihad’ – a word meaning both ‘struggle’ and, specifically, holy war waged on behalf of Islam.
Omeish, who was 24 when she won her place on the board in November 2019, making her one of Virginia’s youngest elected officials, has touted various progressive initiatives at the school.
She has promoted a Black History Month assembly that ensured, she said, ‘that we confront our history and answer honestly about the ills of our past.’
Others included the school’s first-time recognition of Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this year, and the school’s Equity Club, which she said had become a standard in the Fairfax School District.
She also sparked controversy recently for her tweet attacking Israel.
On May 13, she posted: ‘Hurts my heart to celebrate while Israel kills Palestinians & desecrates the Holy Land right now.
‘Apartheid & colonization were wrong yesterday and will be today, here and there.’
The tweet sparked such strong backlash that the Fairfax County Republican Committee called on Omeish to resign.
Instead, she refused and hit out at her ‘haters’ calling them a ‘different breed’ of cheerleader.
‘No matter how many haters emerge, I’m sure you’ve encountered them yourselves, and believe me they’re a sign you’re unsettling the status quo towards justice,’ she said.
‘Just consider them your cheerleaders of another breed. When they try to bury you, remind them you are a seed.’
Fairfax itself has hit the headlines amid clashes over the teaching of critical race theory, with parents including Nomani also claiming that the school is dumbing down its curriculum in a bit to achieve equity – equality of outcomes – for students.