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Controversial Virginia school board member doubles down on Iwo Jima comments, says backlash a 'distortion'
February 28 2023, 08:00

An embattled school district in Virginia has been ground zero for controversial public school education policies and one member of the school board has frequently made headlines for her left-wing talking points. 

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) board member Abrar Omeish has sparked outrage among parents in recent years for her comments about capitalism, racism, White supremacy and American history. 

During a school board meeting last week, the 28-year-old Muslim school board member described the Battle of Iwo Jima as "unfortunate" and "evil" while discussing the Day of Remembrance which commemorates the victims of Japanese-American internment during World War II and coincides with the U.S. invasion of Iwo Jima, which occurred on Feb. 19, 1945. 

"Just a few days ago was Japanese Day of Remembrance," Omeish said during the meeting. "Something for us to certainly reflect on … the days when, you know, Iwo Jima unfortunately happened and set a record for really what, I hate to say, human evil is capable of."

The Battle of Iwo Jima, where almost 7,000 American service members died trying to capture the island of Japan from the imperial Japanese, is considered a significant U.S. victory in World War II.


In a statement to Fox News Digital Omeish said she was "very disappointed" that her statements on Iwo Jima and the Japanese Day of Remembrance "have been so misrepresented."

"I would like to set the record straight," she told Fox News Digital. "Before the battle at Iwo Jima in Feb 1945, Japan knew it could not defend the island, but its Government still demanded its military forces to fight to the death. Even though Lieutenant General Kuribayashi knew there was no possibility of winning the battle, Prime Minster Hideki Tojo sent him on a suicidal mission to inflict as many casualties as possible on allied forces and to never surrender. The unnecessary spilling of blood was not right."

"At the same time, our own Government also knew in Feb 1945 that the overwhelming number of 120,000 incarcerated Japanese Americans posed no threat to American security," she added. "By that time, the Japanese American 442 Infantry Regiment was already well on its way to becoming the most decorated American military unit in WWII. The refusal of our own Government to release the Japanese prisoners was and should continue to be condemned. Our government’s actions were also not right. During the school board meeting, I mentioned both points to nuance our discussion regarding these events."

Omeish said the "deliberate distortion" of her statements is "completely unfounded and frankly shocking."

"Truthfully, it is hard not to see how the distortion is not loaded with its own fears about me and driven by what is entirely unrelated to this subject: the incorrect assumption stories like these depend on— that Muslim somehow implies anti-American," she concluded. 

Omeish is the youngest person to be elected into her role of At-Large School Board Member at FCPS, representing the Fairfax County's 1.2 million residents from its nine districts, according to the district website. She was sworn into office in December 2019 with her current term set to expire on December 31, 2023.

In 2021, she received parental backlash after she gave a politically charged speech at the Justice High School commencement where she told the primarily-minority student body to remember their "jihad," as they enter into a racist world which she described as overcome by "extreme versions of individualism and capitalism." 


"Our world is overwhelmed with need," Omeish said during her speech. "We struggle with human greed, racism, extreme versions of individualism and capitalism, White supremacy, growing wealth gaps, disease, climate crisis, extreme poverty amid luxury and waste right next door. And the list goes on." 

The student government president who introduced Omeish before her speech mentioned that the young school board member also campaigned for presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and that her father, Esam Omeish, was a "leader and board member of the Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center," which is the namesake of a mosque attended by two of the 9/11 hijackers in 2001, the radical imam Anwar Al-Awlaki and Nidal Hasan, the 2009 Fort Hood shooter, Fox News Digital previously reported. 


FCPS said in a statement that Omeish's comments were protected under the First Amendment and that they were her personal views, not those of the school board or district. FCPS parent Gary Aiken said at the time it was "absurd" that a school board members views would not represent the school district, especially those made during a speech at a school sanctioned graduation ceremony. 

Omeish has also upset Jewish parents in the district, calling Israel as an apartheid state in what Aiken called "vile anti-Semitic tweets on her social accounts," according to an interview with "Fox & Friends First" in 2021.

"That desecrates the Holy Land and kills Palestinians," Aiken said. "And this caused huge outrage among over 250,000 Jewish Americans here in Northern Virginia and it sparked outrage across all political lines and there were calls for her to apologize. She offered no apology. She doubled down on it."

Omeish attended FCPS schools and is a graduate of Yale University, according to FCPS' website.

She "believes in the importance of holistic education-- a framework that looks at the well-being of a child not only academically but also socioemotionally, mentally, intellectually, physically, spiritually, morally, and civicly," the website says. "She aims to advocate for students, staff, neighboring residents, and the surrounding environment to build compassionate nurturing environments for the whole community."

Fox News' Bradford Betz and Joshua Nelson contributed to this report