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Ilhan Omar Reflects on Columbia University Protests Involving Daughter’s Arrest

Ilhan Omar
Ilhan Omar (Credits: Roll Call)

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) expressed support for the Columbia University students protesting for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war, while emphasizing the need to maintain focus on the “genocide in Gaza.” Her comments came as authorities arrested dozens of students, including her daughter, Isra Hirsi, for their involvement in the protests.

Omar praised the solidarity among the students, stating, “This is more than the students hoped for, and I am glad to see this type of solidarity. But to be clear, this is about the genocide in Gaza, and the attention has to remain on that.” The protests, which have entered their sixth day, are calling for a ceasefire and a halt in US military aid to Israel, with students occupying the center of campus.

Over 100 students, including Omar’s daughter, have been arrested and charged with trespassing. The protests have expanded to other college campuses nationwide, despite efforts by Columbia leadership to quell the demonstrations. The university authorized the NYPD to arrest students and informed protesters they would be suspended for their involvement.

Isra Hirsi (Credits: Fox News)

Isra Hirsi, 21, was among three students suspended from Barnard College, connected to Columbia. She recalled finding out about her suspension in an interview with Teen Vogue, stating, “At that moment, we made an announcement to the camp… and let them know that we had been evicted and not allowed into our space, but also officially suspended.”

Hirsi was held in zip ties for seven hours before being charged with trespassing and released. Her suspension prevents her from entering campus, and she has concerns about housing and food access.

Isra Hirsi (Credits: Brower Youth Awards)

The student encampment began on the same day university President Minouche Shafik testified before the House Education Committee about campus antisemitism, prompting calls from politicians for her resignation.

Columbia moved classes online despite the unrest hours before the Jewish holiday of Passover began. The White House condemned calls for “violence and physical intimidation targeting Jewish students” despite the ongoing unrest at several college campuses.

Antisemitism has risen since Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel, though many protesting students are Jewish. Several protest groups have pushed back against characterizations of their demonstrations as antisemitic.

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