WASHINGTON – Two freshmen congresswomen who were the first Muslim women ever elected to Congress reacted to New Zealand mosque attacks with heartbreak on Friday.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., both elected in November, reacted with both pain and worry for Muslims across the world after 49 people were killed in targeted attacks at two mosques in the city of Christchurch.
"This morning I tried to hold back tears as I hugged my two brown, Muslim boys a little tighter and longer," she said in a statement. "I am so angry at those who follow the 'white supremacy' agenda in my own country that sends a signal across the world that massacres like this is some kind of call to action."
This morning I hugged my two brown, Muslim boys a little tighter and longer. It pains me to see the "white supremacy" agenda right here at home sending signals across this world that a massacre like #NewZealandTerroristAttack is part of some kind of call to action. #TakeonHate pic.twitter.com/cmmWY0lqwo— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) March 15, 2019
She said that today was Jumu-ah, a prayer held each Friday, and she prayed that other Muslims would be "protected and can find some kind of peace." Tlaib also posted a photo of her cuddling with her two sons, the two boys smiling.
"I hope that our children don't become numb to this, and that this is not their new normal," Tlaib said.
Omar echoed those sentiments. She told reporters that she didn't see the news until she woke up Friday morning in disbelief.
"Love trumps hate," she said. "And so we just have to make sure that we are resilient, loving and that we are creating an environment that recognizes all of our work."
Omar said she worried about the level of hatred in fringe groups, such as what the suspects in the attack were involved in, but said those terrorists should not be given any credence or be allowed to win.
‘We must face the hate and terror with love and with compassion.’ — Rep. @IlhanMN responded to the New Zealand terror attack by asking everyone to join Muslims at Jummah prayers in solidarity pic.twitter.com/0GvB9s9f32— NowThis (@nowthisnews) March 15, 2019
She called on everyone — Muslim or not — to pray and not be afraid to go to mosques and "join them in solidarity."
"I know that there was a call for people to not go, and I said to people that is what the terrorist want us to do. That is a win for them," Omar said. "And so we must face the hate and terror with love and with compassion."
The New Zealand attacks occurred the Al Noor mosque, where 41 people died, and the Linwood Islamic Center, where seven died. One person died in the hospital.
More than 20 people were seriously wounded in the racist rampage.
One person, a self-proclaimed racist who described himself as a 28-year-old Australian, was arrested and charged with murder and two others were detained in what Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called "one of New Zealand's darkest days."
The Australian suspect, who claimed responsibility for the shootings, left a 74-page manifesto against immigrants and used a helmet-mounted camera to capture footage of the killings.
Contributing: Doug Stanglin and Joel Shannon
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'I tried to hold back tears': First two Muslim congresswomen react to New Zealand tragedy