Ilhan Omar

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Omar’s official congressional portrait

Ilhan Abdullahi Omar (born October 4, 1981) is an American politician serving as U.S. Representative for Minnesota's 5th congressional district since 2019. She is a member of the Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party. Before her election to Congress, Omar served in the Minnesota House of Representatives from 2017 to 2019, representing part of Minneapolis. Her congressional district includes all of Minneapolis and some of its first-ring suburbs.

Omar serves as whip of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and has advocated for a $15 minimum wage, universal healthcare, student loan debt forgiveness, the protection of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and abolishing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). A frequent critic of Israel, Omar supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and has denounced its settlement policy and military campaigns in the occupied Palestinian territories, as well as what she describes as the influence of pro-Israel lobbies.



  • [1]I appreciate the countless messages of support I have received from the people... who understand how difficult and deeply personal this has been for my family and especially my children. I remain honored to be a part of a campaign that is uniting the diverse voices of our district – long term residents, East African immigrants and students.


  • I am America’s hope and the president’s nightmare.
    • 13 July 2018 on Comedy Central's "Daily Show" per Snopes
  • I am much more interested in defending my ideas than defending my identities.
    • As reported by the Star Tribune in December 2018, in response to criticism of Omar wearing hijab while on the House floor.[1]


  • The reasons for weaponizing division are not mysterious. Racial fear prevents Americans from building community with one another and community is the lifeblood of a functioning democratic society. Throughout our history, racist language has been used to turn American against American in order to benefit the wealthy elite. Every time Mr. Trump attacks refugees is a time that could be spent discussing the president's unwillingness to raise the federal minimum wage for up to 33 million Americans. Every racist attack on four members of Congress is a moment he doesn't have to address why his choice for labor secretary has spent his career defending Wall Street banks and Walmart at the expense of workers. When he is launching attacks on the free press, he isn't talking about why his Environmental Protection Agency just refused to ban a pesticide linked to brain damage in children.
    • 7/25/2019 in the New York Times
  • In 1991, you pleaded guilty to two counts of withholding information from Congress regarding your involvement in the Iran-Contra affair, for which you were later pardoned by President George H.W. Bush... I fail to understand why members of this committee or the American people should find any testimony that you give today to be truthful... You later said that the U.S. policy in El Salvador was a 'fabulous achievement...Yes or no: Do you still think so?...The American people want to know that any time we engage a country, that we think about what our actions could be and how we believe our values are being furthered.... Whether, under your watch, a genocide will take place, and you will look the other way because American interests were being upheld, is a fair question.
    (Questions & Comments were made during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing Wednesday regarding President Trump's Venezuela envoy Elliott Abrams).
  • When we talk about waking people up from complicity, is to say that we can’t be only upset with Trump because he’s not a politician who sells us his policies in the most perfect way. His policies are bad. But many of the people who came before him also had really bad policies. They just were more polished than he was. And that’s not what we should be looking for anymore. We don’t want anybody to get away with murder because they are polished. We want to recognize the actual policies that are behind the pretty face and the smile.


  • When you're a Democrat, the media makes you have to answer for every broken window and thrown bottle by protestors, regardless of what they’re protesting or where. But when actual GOP & Trump supporters [...] call & cheer for assassinating Democrats... silence.
  • He effed around and found out.
    • Referring to president Donald Trump's defeat after insulting her during the campaign and claiming that he would flip Minnesota (the state she represents) Republican in the 2020 election; in an interview with The Intercept’s Washington bureau chief, Ryan Grim[2]
  • We are motivated by radical love of country. We fight for universal healthcare because of love. We fight for a livable planet because of love. We fight for equitable housing because of love.
    • 7/31/2020 on Twitter
  • Stop saying "we can't afford" Homes for All, Green New Deal or Medicare for All. 'If we didn't spend trillions on endless wars and tax breaks for millionaires, we could afford to house our homeless, care for our seniors, and save our planet. We suffer from greed, not scarcity.
    • 7/29/2020 on Twitter

This Is What America Looks Like: My Journey from Refugee to Congresswoman (2020)[edit]

  • Education had always been deeply prized on both my mother's and father's sides of the family. For a period when Awoowe, my paternal grandfather, lived with us back in Somalia, he would call me into his room each morning before I left for school to make sure I understood that I was a beneficiary of the attributes of Araweelo, a Somali queen who fought for the rights of women and the disenfranchised.
  • I truly believe the America that we all want and deserve is not just a myth but a place that could actually exist. But only if we work for it, and not just individually-not just for ourselves, our families, or our ethnicities, religions, or other groups to which we belong. We need to work for it together.
  • The more invested we are in one another, the better all of us ultimately will be. This is the philosophy of interconnectedness that I operate on as a legislator in a country where there is enough abundance to achieve all our goals. It is the opposite of the myth of scarcity, where what's mine necessarily takes away from yours. We become obsessed with who has more and depressed about all that we lack. This mentality is what pits minority groups against one another in a fight for scraps. Those propping up the status quo are happy to see us so distracted. I would like to reframe the old adage that one person's gain is another's loss. I want your loss to be my loss; your gain, mine, too.
  • we can't eradicate problems unless we put ourselves in the shoes of those impacted by the solutions we implement.
  • Ensuring that the democratic system is prepared for all the challenges it faces ignites me to this day. From increasing access for new Americans united in their excitement to participate to reaching out to the disillusioned to explain the purpose of their involvement, those who are conscious of what isn't working have a responsibility to figure out how to make it better. But it all starts with just showing up, and that's something all of us can do.

Interview with Democracy Now (2020)[edit]

  • I think, for many of us, you know, 2016 was going to be an election year where we were going to decide what kind of country we were going to be. It was very clear that on one side there was someone running for president who presented an extreme danger, not only to our democracy, but to the very lives of the American people. ..our presence, really, and our elections were not only to resist the harmful policies that are coming from this administration and that have now become the norm, but it’s to restore hope.
  • I always find an opportunity in every challenge. And I know that at this moment, we have had an opportunity to see every — every broken system reveal itself. We have had an opportunity for people to recognize what they are not only losing, but what they could gain. We have had an opportunity to allow for the racists and the bigots to fully tell on themselves. And we have had an opportunity for people who have never really imagined themselves fully powerful in the corridors of power to recognize that they cannot be muzzled, intimidated and silenced, that we are not ever going to be dismissed unless we allow ourselves to be dismissed.
  • I think the shock that our presence really has brought is that for too long people have gotten used to having mediocre white men show up and think they own the day, without anybody ever questioning their credentials, their qualifications and their vision for a broken America. And for the first time you have women, who should be apologetic, who should feel small, who might visibly be small, who come in and know their place, understand their power, fully execute their vision and never, never really look shaken by the insecurities that many who thought they were powerful feel now that their power is challenged. And so, for me, I feel like, you know, people are often wondering, like, “If you’ve got all of these challenges, Ilhan, how do you still continue? Or why do you all feel like you thrive in your controversies?” And it’s because we don’t live in controversy. We live in constant struggle for the truth, and we live in constant struggle in remaking America in its image of freedom and liberty for all, not the image of the past, but the image of what the future of America should look like.
  • when we engage in the creation of our foreign policy, we are truly disconnected from the foreign nations that it will impact and the humans who are going to be impacted by our foreign policy. And so, even as we think about capitalism and we think about our trade policies and we think about the creation of jobs and we think about the fight for unionized labor here, oftentimes when we talk about dignified workplace, we don’t connect that to be something that someone else deserves in another country. And so, when you’re thinking about Mexico or Honduras or El Salvador or any of these countries that we might ship our jobs to and have a working environment there, we don’t think about the fact that these organizations, these corporations are now going to be exploiting workers over there. It’s not just that we are losing jobs, but there is literally going to be an exploitation of workers over there.

Covington Catholic[edit]

Note: Regarding the confrontation between Covington Catholic School kids and others on the National Mall, the origins of which are still in dispute despite a video ( of the event, Rep. Omar accused the students of wrongdoing.

  • The boys were protesting a woman's right to choose & yelled 'it's not rape if you enjoy it' ... (archived)
  • They were taunting 5 Black men before they surrounded Phillips and led racist chants ...
  • Sandmann's family hired a right wing PR firm to write his non-apology.
    • Twitter feed, as reported by Fox News, (Jan 22, 2019)[3]
    • Tweet deleted following threat of lawsuit, as reported by Roll Call[4]


  • Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.
    • Twitter feed [2][dead link] (Nov 16, 2012)
    • Omar later regretted making this tweet, describing it as 'unfortunate'.[5]
  • It's all about the Benjamins baby.
    • Alleging that American politicians get paid to support Israel, in response to journalist Glenn Greenwald. 10 February 2019
  • I am told every day that I am anti-American if I am not pro-Israel. I find that to be problematic and I am not alone. I just happen to be willing to speak up on it and open myself to attacks.
  • I am sure @AOC and every member of Congress who cares about children will sign on. Super proud of @BettyMcCollum04 for her leadership on this issue
    • 12 June 2019 regarding H.R 2407 (introduced 30 April 2019) of the 116th Congress (Promoting Human Rights for Palestinian Children Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act) previously known as H.R. 4391 (Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act) as part of the 115th Congress, introduced November 2017. Highlighted 14 June 2019


  • A US backed coup in Venezuela is not a solution to the dire issues they face. Trump's efforts to install a far right opposition will only incite violence and further destabilize the region. We must support Mexico, Uruguay & the Vatican's efforts to facilitate a peaceful dialogue.
  • We cannot hand pick leaders for other countries on behalf of multinational corporate interests. The legislature cannot seize power from the President, and Venezuela's Supreme Court has declared their actions unconstitutional.
    • Twitter feed, as reported by The Hill (Jan 25, 2019), referencing Juan Guaidó[7]
  • If we really want to support the Venezuelan people, we can lift the economic sanctions that are inflicting suffering on innocent families, making it harder for them to access food and medicines, and deepening the economic crisis. We should support dialogue, not a coup!

Quotes about Ilhan Omar[edit]


  • Ilhan Omar and myself, for the experiences that we all went through—I mean, and it wasn’t Muslims that elected us. It was non-Muslims. That is a huge, again, inspirational, powerful message. And I feel like this—you know, people call it the blue wave and the pink wave and the Muslim wave. It’s this rainbow that is like coming to Congress...all of the people that are running are just an incredible array of what we really love about our country and the beauty of our country. And I can’t wait to hold her hand as we walk through the halls of Congress. She brings so much courage. I was like, “Please don’t let me be the only one, Ilhan.” And she’s like, “I got it.” And so, I’m thrilled that Congresswoman-elect or candidate Omar will be joining me.

January 2019[edit]

  • If they had been wise, Israel’s friends, supporters and lobbyists in America might have held their peace. After the election of Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar to congress – both supporting the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel...But no. The sky fell. She was “vicious” in her views, wrong on facts, potentially antisemitic, a “strategic threat” to Israel itself.... Is the boycott and divestment campaign against Israel which Alexander supports – along with congresswomen Tlaib and Omar – really “delegitimising” Israel, as her critics claim? Or is Israel delegitimising itself by confiscating land which does not belong to it? And if the brave and liberal members of America’s Jewish community who condemn Israel are regularly smeared as “self-hating Jews”, what does that make Alexander?

February 2019[edit]

  • Pelosi and Schumer know damn well that @IlhanMN (Ilhan Omar) was not engaged in anti-semitism and they intentionally conflate criticizing AIPAC with attacking Judaism and Jewish people. Omar hit a tripwire and the full force of the party was brought down on her.
  • Omar’s latest Jew-hatred isn’t the beginning of her story. In 2012 she tweeted: "Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel." In 2013 she chuckled over Hamas and Hezbollah and suggested that the American military was akin to Al Qaeda. She supports the anti-Semitic BDS movement. She said last month that Israel cannot be a democracy and a Jewish state. She’s not hiding the ball here.
    • Ben Shapiro, The Democratic Party Has Become The Party Of Anti-Semitism. Here's Why. February 11 2019, Daily Wire
  • This is all so ridiculous. It’s all based upon this demand that we indulge what everybody knows is an utter and complete fiction, which is that we’re allowed to talk about the power of the NRA in Washington, we’re allowed to talk about the power of the Saudis in Washington, we’re allowed to talk about the power of big pharmaceutical companies and Wall Street and Silicon Valley and the fossil fuel industry in Washington, but we’re not allowed to talk about an equally potent, well-organized and well-financed lobby that ensures a bipartisan consensus in support of... Israel, that the minute that you mention that lobby, you get attacked as being anti-Semitic, which is what happened to Congresswoman Omar... For a long time, the bipartisan piety was not just that the U.S. has to support Israel, but that, in particular, the effort to boycott Israel in protest of its occupation of Palestine is not just misguided, but anti-Semitic. That’s the official position of the Democratic Party, of Hillary Clinton, of Chuck Schumer, of every leading Democrat.
    What the congresswoman said is very uncontroversial. Everyone knows AIPAC is an extremely intimidating lobby, just like the NRA is. There’s nothing wrong with pointing that out. There’s certainly nothing anti-Semitic about saying that, about criticizing the Israeli government for its aggression and militarism. And anybody who cares about Palestinians and about the ability of Muslims in the United States to be able to speak freely ought to be defending her.
  • Anti-Semitism has no place in the United States Congress, and Congresswoman Omar is, terrible what she said, I think she should either resign from Congress or she should certainly resign from the House Foreign Affairs Committee. What she said is so deep-seated in her heart, that her lame apology, and that's what it was, it was lame, and she didn't mean a word of it was just not appropriate. I think she should resign from Congress, frankly. But at a minimum, she shouldn't be on committees, certainly that committee.
    • Donald Trump, WATCH: Trump Calls On Anti-Semite Ilhan Omar To Resign From Congress, Daily Wire (12 February 2019)
  • Why did Omar’s 2016 campaign literature reference Ahmed Hirsi as her “husband” when she hadn’t yet divorced Ahmed Elmi or married Hirsi?
    Why did Omar say in her 2017 divorce filing that she’d had no contact with Elmi since June of 2011 when she was seemingly photographed with him in London in 2015?
    Why has Elmi not put the matter to rest by coming forward and explaining the nature of his relationship with Omar?

March 2019[edit]

  • What I fear is going on in the House now is an effort to target Congresswoman Omar as a way of stifling that debate. That’s wrong Anti-Semitism is a hateful and dangerous ideology which must be vigorously opposed in the United States and around the world. We must not, however, equate anti-Semitism with legitimate criticism of the right-wing, Netanyahu government in Israel.
  • We are Jews who stand with Representative Ilhan Omar. She has been falsely accused of anti-Semitism since tweeting that GOP threats against her and Representative Rashida Tlaib for criticizing Israel were “all about the Benjamins baby.” When asked to clarify who is paying members of Congress “to be pro-Israel,” Omar replied, “AIPAC!”
    There is absolutely nothing anti-Semitic about calling out the noxious role of AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee), which spends millions each year to buy U.S. political support for Israeli aggression and militarism against the Palestinian people. As the NYC chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace summed up: "Accurately describing how the Israel lobby works in this country is not anti-Semitic. The never-ending smear campaign against Ilhan Omar is racism and Islamophobia in action.”
    There is no denying that money rules U.S. politics, and that powerful lobbies from the NRA to the fossil fuel lobby to AIPAC play destructive, anti-democratic roles in our political system, wielding money for legislative influence. The pro-Israel lobby has played an outsized role in producing nearly unanimous congressional support for Israel. It has organized a national campaign to suppress Palestinian activism on campuses, made the Israel Anti-Boycott Act a legislative priority, and for decades has boasted about their power to make or break political careers. To point out this reality is not anti-Semitic.
  • A large number of proud Jewish Americans – raised to believe in civil liberties and open discussion – are appalled by the campaign to muzzle Rep. Ilhan Omar, as well as Speaker Pelosi’s role in it. We’re also appalled that human-rights-abusing Israel is virtually off-limits to debate.
    Most Jews – the likes of Stephen Miller and Jared Kushner excepted – empathize with the refugee experience. Only a rare few cannot be impressed by the life story of Ilhan Omar, who fled civil-war-torn Somalia and came to the U.S. as a refugee at age 12, knowing only two English phrases: “hello” and “shut up.” Now a Muslim Congresswoman, she’s recently faced hateful bias and threats.
    Rep. Omar has made a simple and undeniable point – that AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) and the funding it influences exert extraordinary power over Congress. Disputing that point is flat-earther terrain. The Capitol Hill farce of an “anti-hate” resolution would provide still more evidence on behalf of her argument. Unfortunately, all the vague media references to Rep Omar’s “anti-Semitic remarks” obscure how truthful and non-hateful those comments were.
  • “I don’t think our colleague is anti-Semitic,” Pelosi said afterwards. “She has a different experience in the use of words, doesn’t understand that some of them are fraught with meaning that she didn’t realise.” Omar, who came to the US as an eight-year-old, is a college-level graduate of the American educational system, but she apparently cannot understand English as it is spoke; Jamana Hayes has a point.
  • Omar is an intersectionalist’s fantasy made flesh. A black Muslim woman immigrant, she hates capitalism and Israel, calls Donald Trump less than human, and believes that Jewish money is corrupting American politics. She isn’t exactly enamoured of the nation that has given her refuge and then promoted her to high office, either. But patriotism, like plastic surgery, is for older Democrats.


  • Congresswoman Ilhan Omar is a fearless, pioneering badass with a titanium backbone
    • Dave Eggers blurb for This Is What America Looks Like: My Journey from Refugee to Congresswoman (2020)
  • Representative Ilhan Omar is not just pushing America to live up to its best ideals-she's showing us how the struggle for inclusion and solidarity can transform our communities in the here and now.
    • Naomi Klein blurb for This Is What America Looks Like: My Journey from Refugee to Congresswoman (2020)
  • Ilhan has been an inspiring figure since well before her time in Congress. This book will give you insight into the person and sister that I see-passionate, caring, witty, and above all committed to positive change. It's an honor to serve alongside her in the fight for a more just world.
  • No one knew there had been a wedding until the media turned up the marriage certificate years later.
    People began noticing that Ilhan and Southside were often with a very effeminate young guy.
    He was very feminine in the way he dressed — he would wear light lipstick and pink clothes and very, very, short shorts in the summer.
    People started whispering about him.
    Southside and Ilhan both told me it was Ilhan's brother and he had been living in London but he was mixing with what were seen as bad influences that the family did not like.
    So they sent him to Minneapolis as rehab.
    When Southside and Ilhan got married, a lot of people were invited.
    It was a big Islamic wedding uniting two large clans in the Minneapolis community.
    I would say there were 100-150 people there.
    When she married Elmi, no one even knew about it.
    So the scandal was about Southside's brother-in-law more than Ilhan's brother.
    She said she needed to get papers for her brother to go to school.
    We all thought she was just getting papers together to allow him to stay in this country.
    Once she had the papers they could apply for student loans.
    They both moved to North Dakota to go to school but she was still married to Southside.
    In the Somali way, the only marriage that mattered was the one in the mosque.
    Ilhan came back to Minneapolis all the time to see her family, but her brother didn't come with her.
    They never parted.
    • Abdihakim Osman of Xerta Shekh (speaking in Somali via an unidentified interpreter) talking about Omar's marriage to Ahmed Elmi after marriage to "Southside" Ahmed Hirsi, as interviewed by Martin Gould in 20 February 2020 article in Daily Mail


  • That Trump's supporters believe Omar's sins justify her banishment and Trump's similar transgressions justify his presence in the White House helps illustrate exactly what is going on here. Under Trumpism, no defense of the volk is a betrayal, even if it undermines the republic, and no attack on the volk's hegemony can be legitimate, even if it is a defense of democracy.
  • Ilhan Omar must be defended, but not because of her views on Israel, gay rights, or progressive taxation. You needn't agree with her on any of those things; in fact, you needn't like her at all. But she must be defended because the nature of the president's attack on her is a threat to all Americans-black or white, Jew or gentile-whose citizenship, whose belonging, might similarly be questioned. This is not about Omar anymore or the other women of color who have been told by this president to "go back" to their supposed countries of origin. It is about defending the idea that America should be a country for all its people. If multiracial democracy cannot be defended in America, it will not be defended elsewhere. What Americans do now, in the face of this, will define us forever.


  1. Rao, Maya (December 25, 2018). "Ilhan Omar's influence already expanding in Congress". Star Tribune. Retrieved on January 26, 2019. 
  2. "Ilhan Omar On Trump’s Bid To Flip Minnesota" --'Huffpost' 7 Nov 2020
  3. Wulfsohn (January 22, 2019). "Rep. Ilhan Omar deletes tweet attacking Covington students, after backlash". Fox News. Retrieved on January 29, 2019. 
  4. Connelly, Griffin (January 23, 2019). "Covington Catholic lawyer adds Rep. Ilhan Omar to ‘libel,’ ‘get sued’ list". Roll Call. Retrieved on January 29, 2019. 
  5. Crowe, Jack (January 17, 2019). "Rep. Ilhan Omar on Past Anti-Semitic Tweet". National Review. Retrieved on January 17, 2019. 
  6. Wulfsohn, Joseph A. (January 24, 2019). "Rep. Ilhan Omar faces backlash after claiming Trump is backing ‘coup’ in Venezuela". Fox News. Retrieved on January 29, 2019. 
  7. a b Bowden, John (January 25, 2019). "New Dem Rep. Omar: US shouldn't 'hand pick' leaders in Venezuela or support 'coup' attempt". Retrieved on January 29, 2019. 

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