Facts about Ilhan Omar

Ilhan Omar is 36 years old
Born: October 4, 1982
Birthplace: Mogadishu, Somalia
Best known as: Member of Congress from Minnesota, 2019-present

     

Ilhan Omar Biography

Ilhan Omar is a member of Congress from Minnesota’s 5th District, and one of the first two Muslim women ever elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Ilhan Omar was born in Somalia. She fled the country’s civil war with her family at age eight. After four years in a Kenyan refugee camp, the family moved to the United States, finally settling in Minneapolis in 1997. She attended the city’s Edison High School and then graduated from North Dakota State University in 2011 with a degree in political science and international studies.

A Democrat, she was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives from District 60B in 2016, becoming (according to her official site) “the first Somali-American, Muslim legislator in the United States.” Omar was an unusual new figure in the legislature, wearing the colorful head scarves that are typical for Somali women. (A New York Times story in 2018 reported that “After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, she decided to wear the hijab, as an open declaration of her identity.”)

Two years later she set her sights on the U.S. Congress, running for Minnesota’s 5th District in 2018 on a progressive platform that included a call for universal health care, tuition-free colleges and a $15/hour minimum wage. Omar defeated Republican Jennifer Zielinski with 78% of the vote to win the seat. She and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), elected the same year, became the first two Muslim women ever to be members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Extra credit

Ilhan Omar married Ahmed Hirsi in 2018; they have three children together. The timeline of their marital history is tangled, according to Wikipedia: “In 2002 Omar became engaged to marry Ahmed Hirsi (né Ahmed Aden). They applied for a marriage license, but the application was not finalized. The pair had two children together before separating in 2008. In 2009, Omar married Ahmed Nur Said Elmi, a British citizen. She said that in 2011, she and Elmi had a faith-based divorce, and in 2017 the two were legally divorced. She said that in 2011, she reconciled with Hirsi. They had a third child in 2012, and in 2018 they were legally married”… Two Muslim men had been elected to Congress before Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib: Rep. Keith Ellison 0f Minnesota and Rep. André Carson of Indiana. Both men became Muslims as adults… Ilhan Omar became a naturalized U.S. citizen in the year 2000… Another woman of color elected to Congress in 2018 was Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.


     

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