Congresswoman, Squad member, human rights activist, Trump enemy: Ilhan Omar is all of the above, and so much more. Learn more about the Minnesota rep., who just filed for divorce, here.
Representative Ilhan Omar, 37, is one of the most famous, and divisive members of Congress in 2019. The Democratic freshman congresswoman from Minnesota is the first Somali-American to ever be elected to Congress. She is also Muslim and the first person in Congress to ever wear a hijab. Since assuming office in January 2017, Omar has become a frequent target of attacks by President Donald Trump, and has fought back against racism, Islamaphobia, and death threats as she works to represent her state. Learn more about Omar with these five, key facts:
1. She’s a Somali immigrant. Omar was born in Mogadishu, Somalia. She and her family left the country in the late 1980s to escape the civil war, spending four years in a refugee camp in Kenya. Her family reached the US in 1992, and received asylum in 1995. She became a US citizen in 2000, when she was 17 years old. Omar is the first Somali-American to be become a US representative.
2. She’s part of the Congressional “squad.” Omar and fellow Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib were dubbed “The Squad” after fighting together toward progressive goals, like the Green New Deal. Trump tweeted in July 2019 that the four women of color, who are all US citizens, should “go back” to the “places from which they came.” Omar said that the president was “stoking white nationalism” because he was “Angry that people like us are serving in Congress and fighting against your hate-filled agenda.”
3. She faced massive scrutiny after a comment about 9/11. Omar sparked controversy for a remark taken out of context in April 2019 about the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Omar said during a speech at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), “CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us [Muslims in the US] were starting to lose access to our civil liberties. The New York Post printed a cover that showed the World Trade Center burning on 9/11, with the quote, “REP. ILHAN OMAR: 9/11 WAS ‘SOME PEOPLE DID SOMETHING'”, and a caption underneath added, “Here’s your something… 2,977 people dead by terrorism.”
Capitol police had to increase its protection of the congresswoman after President Trump tweeted out a video that edited Omar’s remarks. She said she received multiple death threats that referenced the tweet, including one person who said they would shoot her at the Minnesota State Fair.
4. She has been the target of multiple assassination plots. The FBI arrested Coast Guard lieutenant Christopher Hasson in February 2019, an accused domestic terrorist who allegedly plotted to assassinate American journalists and Democratic politicians, including Omar. Hasson, a self-described White Nationalist and skinhead, wanted to use violence to “establish a white homeland.” Hasson said in a 2017 email draft that he dreamed of killing everyone on earth, and wanted to carry that out with “biological attacks followed by attack on food supply,” bombing, and sniper attacks. Along with Omar, Hasson had Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, and more on his hit list, according to a court filing.
5. She filed for divorce from her husband twice. It was announced in October 2019 that Rep. Omar reportedly filed for divorce from her husband of one year, Ahmed Hirsi. But their relationship is far more complicated than a year-long marriage. Omar and Hirsi actually married in a religious ceremony in 2002, though their union wasn’t legally recognized. The couple had two kids together (names unknown) before splitting in 2008. Omar married, this time legally, Ahmed Elmi in 2009. They split in 2011, but weren’t legally divorced until 2017. Meanwhile, Omar got back together with Hirsi in 2012, and they had a third child together. They legally married in 2018. She has reportedly moved out of their home in Minneapolis and into her own apartment, according to TMZ.