On Wednesday, Oley Larsen a Republican senator from North Dakota stated that he was sorry for sharing a long-debunked image that depicts Minnesota Democratic congresswoman Ilhan Omar holding a weapon at an al-Qaida training camp. He, however, refuses to apologize to Omar.
Larsen stated in a Facebook post that he’s “sorry for spreading fake news” and was “willing to own my role in spreading misinformation” before he again began attacking Omar.
“Although there is no evidence that she has directly engaged in terrorist activity, there is ample evidence that she is grossly sympathetic to the cause of certain religious extremists,” Larsen then wrote.
Omar, who was born in Somalia, became a U.S. citizen as a teenager and she is one of the first Muslim women to be elected to Congress.
Larsen then used repeated criticism from some conservatives that Omar made in recent months on Israel, Jewish influence in Washington, and 9/11 that have drawn accusations of anti-Semitism and insensitivity.
Omar stepped up and apologized for suggesting that lawmakers support Israel for money and has said she wasn’t criticizing Jews. She said criticizing the Israeli government is not anti-Semitic.
On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner and GOP Gov. Doug Burgum called on Larsen to apologize and to relinquish his position as president pro tempore.
Larsen has stated that he will not resign from “any of my positions” in the Legislature.
Wardner confirmed that Larsen told him Tuesday night that he would not step aside.
“He thinks he has done nothing wrong — but he’s only caused a riot,” Wardner said.
Wardner went on to call Larsen’s actions an embarrassment to the Legislature and North Dakota. He said he will meet with the state Senate’s GOP caucus before deciding what to do next.