A viral video showing a group of passengers on a plane joining in a seemingly impromptu Christian sing-along captured the internet’s attention over the Easter weekend, leading one prominent lawmaker to wade into the Twitter flurry and allege that this group of people would have been treated differently if they were instead Muslims.
Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, a Democrat and one of a handful of Muslims in the US Congress, reshared the viral video on her personal Twitter account on Easter Sunday and posed the question about how her own family would be received if they too decided to begin a “prayer session” while flying 30,000 feet above the ground in a confined space with strangers.
“I think my family and I should have a prayer session next time I am on a plane,” the Minnesota lawmaker wrote on Sunday alongside the video.
“How do you think it will end?”
The video, which has now garnered more than 30 million views on the social media platform, shows a small portion of the plane’s passengers, some standing up in front of their seats, while others wade into the aisle, singing along to a spiritual Christian song while one of the group’s members leads the chant by strumming an acoustic guitar in the center of the plane.
According to TMZ’s reporting on the viral video, the recording was first shared by a man named Jack Jensz Jr on his personal Instagram account, @jackjenszjr_, on 9 April, more than a week before the post really began gaining traction over the Easter weekend.
Mr Jensz, according to his LinkedIn and personal social media accounts, is both the founder and current leader of the religious organization Kingdom Realm Ministries, a Christian group based out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The group had allegedly been traveling within Ukraine and Poland in recent weeks, according to videos and photos uploaded to Mr Jensz’s personal Instagram and Facebook accounts, to support refugees trying to escape the war.
Some observers agreed with the Minnesota lawmaker’s observation, while others took it one step further and claimed the unprompted singing was a violation of privacy.
“Trying to imagine what would happen if I boarded a plane and tried singing Muslim devotional songs,” wrote on user, while another commented: “This shouldn’t be allowed … It’s an invasion of other peoples’ private space, views and peaceful travel time.”
Rep Omar, however, was not without her own crowd of opponents, with her response to the plane video drawing a separate wave of condemnation from the conservative side of the political spectrum.
Cicely Davis, a GOP candidate for Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District seat, currently held by Rep Omar, wrote in response to her Democratic opponent’s tweet: “The issue is you hate Christians & Jews & lots of Muslims.”
Royce White, another GOP challenger to Rep Omar’s Minnesota seat, wrote: “I’m coming for your seat. Don’t disrespect Christianity!” and “The Democrats you serve don’t believe in God”.
Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District Seat is quickly becoming a crowded and interesting race to watch. Rep Omar is squaring off against several Republican candidates, including frontrunners Ms Davis, Mr White and a third, Shukri Abdirahman, but she is also staving off competition from within her own party.
Don Samuels, a 72-year-old who previously served on the Minneapolis City Council and Public Schools Board of Education, announced last month that he intends to unseat Rep Omar, a member of the progressive Democratic group in Washington known familiarly as “The Squad ”, in the upcoming Democratic primary, being held on 9 August.