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Twitter bans right-wing conspiracist Laura Loomer, renewing free speech debate

Twitter bans right-wing conspiracist Laura Loomer, renewing free speech debate
Conservative firebrand Laura Loomer says she has been pulled off Twitter after accusing newly-elected Democratic House Rep. Ilhan Omar of being anti-Jewish, pro-Sharia and in favor of female genital mutilation.

Loomer's account was suspended on Wednesday evening shortly after the journalist went after Omar, one of the first two Muslim women to be elected to Congress. Her de-platforming comes on the heels of a string of controversial bans as part of Twitter's ongoing crusade to snuff out "hateful conduct" and "bots" – with critics calling the company's actions an assault against free speech. Conspiracy connoisseur Alex Jones' removal from the site was followed by a flurry of suspensions targeting alternative media.

Loomer, who is no stranger to stoking controversy on social media, wrote that it was "ironic" that Omar has become the poster child of "women, LGBTQ, and minorities," while accusing the incoming Minnesota representative of being pro-Sharia, anti-Jewish and pro-FGM.

Omar's stance on genital mutilation has come under scrutiny in the wake of the midterm elections, with some right-wing publications reporting that the lawmaker opposed a bill that would have hardened penalties for parents subjecting their children to the horrific ritual when she sat on the Minnesota House of Representatives.

While Omar initially argued against the bill, calling it a publicity stunt and urging lawmakers to apply already existing laws to punish the parents, she eventually voted for the legislation, which later failed to pass the Senate. 

Omar's views on Israel are more ambiguous and appear to change slightly depending on the audience. During a Democratic candidates' forum in Beth El Synagogue in August, Omar branded the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement "counteractive" and an obstacle in the way of reconciliation.

However, a week since she made history by becoming a US representative, Omar's office told the Muslim Girl website that she "believes in and supports the BDS movement" albeit with "reservations."

In an old tweet from 2012, which resurfaced following her election, Omar blasted Israel for conducting a large-scale military operation in Gaza that led to mass casualties among Palestinian civilians.

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"Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel," Omar tweeted at the time.

Meanwhile, Loomer, whose Facebook and Instagram accounts are still running, said that she has been permanently banned from Twitter. Speaking to the Daily Beast about her suspension, Loomer urged President Donald Trump to "get wind" of the situation, calling herself a "martyr for the cause."

A host of prominent conservative commentators jumped to Loomer's defense, while accusing Twitter of perpetuating its alleged bias against conservative voices.

Trump supporters and the president himself have long argued that Twitter has been disproportionately cracking down on conservatives, while some no less controversial liberal commentators have been spared the purge.

While calling out Twitter's hypocrisy, many pointed out that the account of Nation of Islam (NOI) leader Louis Farrakhan, who has recently compared Jews to termites, has still not been taken down.

Some have brought up the case of NYT's tech columnist Sarah Jeong, whose racist tweets from 2014 were unearthed after she was hired by the newspaper. In a tweet from July 2014, Jeong wrote "it's kind of sick how much joy I get out of being cruel to old white men." She also touted a #CancelWhitePeople hashtag.

However, the journalist, unlike many conservative celebrities, has kept her job.

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