Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) called the Notre Dame Cathedral “art and architecture” in a tweet Monday, without referencing its name or significance to the Catholic religion.
“Art and architecture have a unique ability to help us connect across our differences and bring people together in important ways. Thinking of the people of Paris and praying for every first responder trying to save this wonder,” she tweeted.
Art and architecture have a unique ability to help us connect across our differences and bring people together in important ways. Thinking of the people of Paris and praying for every first responder trying to save this wonder.
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) April 15, 2019
The tweet sparked immediate criticism from those who noted that the historical Catholic cathedral was more than just “art and architecture.”
"Art and architecture"?! Is that all the Notre Dame Cathedral is in your mind?
— Joseph Steinberg (@JosephSteinberg) April 16, 2019
Others noted that she did not call the Notre Dame Cathedral by its name.
it’s called Notre Dame Cathedral fyi
— Alejandrina G.R. (@alejandrina_gr) April 16, 2019
Others filled in the history and significance of Notre Dame.
It is so much more than art & architecture, Notre Dame is a Catholic Cathedral, while it is considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture, it is a symbol of our FAITH. God bless all those effected by the fire, prayers to all.
— AnnelovestheUSA (@AnnelovestheUSA) April 16, 2019
One Twitter user suggested that when she inevitably receives criticism for the tweet, she should “take it on the chin and not play victim”:
Whoever handles your image should have told you this is just the kind of tweet that will make people paint you as a fundamentalist. When the flak from conservatives come, you should take it on the chin and not play victim. #NotreDameCathedral
— Edward Israel-Ayide (@wildeyeq) April 16, 2019
The tweet follows controversy over Omar’s recent remarks when she described the 9/11 attacks as “some people did something.” Her supporters claimed that critics of her remarks were trying to harm her safety.
On Monday, a fire engulfed the ancient cathedral, destroying its timber roof, and bringing down the central spire. People all around the world watched in horror and prayed that the cathedral would be saved, and residents in Paris sang hymns and held a vigil.
The Vatican sent out a message of mourning on Monday, saying, “With shock and sadness, the Holy See received the news of the terrible fire that devastated the Cathedral of Notre Dame, symbol of Christianity in France and the world.”
“We extend our closeness to French Catholics and to the people of Paris and ensure our prayers for the firefighters and those who are doing all they can to deal with this tragic situation,” the Vatican said.
The cathedral is in the process of restoration and recently had sixteen bronze statues removed from the roof area to facilitate work. The fire appears to have started near the roof where work was taking place.
Although no suspicion of foul play has been reported, France has recently suffered an intense period of attacks on its Christian monuments, according to a recent report by the Christian Broadcasting Network.