Ilhan Omar

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Ilhan Omar

Ilhan Omar is a "Somali-American former refugee who was elected to the House of Representatives from Minnesota in the 2016 election."[1]

Upon winning her election, Ilhan Omar said she would "work on an agenda focused on justice and the common good, zero waste and renewable energy."

Ilhan Omar's Twitter page as it appeared on February 8 2017

Ilhan Omar describes herself as a "intersectional feminist" on Twitter.[2] She is the Director of Policy and Initiatives of the Women Organizing Women Network.


Ilhan Omar was born in 1982 and is a mother of three. She was "born in Somalia and lived in a Kenyan refugee camp for four years before immigrating to the United States at the age of 12."

"Omar began honing her political skills at North Dakota State University where she involved herself in organizations like the Muslim Student Association and earned a degree in Political Science and International Studies. In particular, she worked to shift the perception that Islam and social justice were at conflict. She pushed the message that her Islamic background strengthened her resolve to advance justice and equality. Omar said, 'A lot of the social justice issues that I care about stem from this idea of wanting equality and fighting for equality. That is something that is very much part of the principle of the teachings of Islam. That we are all created equal and that we should all be treated equally in our society… I wanted to live that out.'"[3]

Ilhan’s interest in politics began at the age of 14 when she was as an interpreter for her grandfather at local DFL caucuses. Watching neighbors come together to affect change at the treeroots level made Ilhan fall in love with the democratic process and in highschool, she became an organizer and has been a coalition builder ever since. She worked as a community educator at the University of Minnesota and has been a devoted progressive activist in the DFL party for many years. Before running for office, Ilhan was a Humphrey Policy Fellow and served as a senior Policy Aide for a Minneapolis City Council Member.

In 2016, Ilhan became the first Somali-American, Muslim legislator in the United States. With the help of her campaign team, they increased voter turnout by 37%. She was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in District 60B, where she’s lived for the past 20 years and where she and her husband Ahmed are raising their three children.[4]


  • Assistant Minority Leader at the Minnesota Legislature with assignments to three committees: *Civil Law and Data Practices Policy; Higher Education and Career Readiness Policy and Finance; State Government Finance
  • Appointed to and Chaired Governor Dayton's Young Women's Initiative
  • Director of Policy, Women Organizing Women
  • Former Minneapolis City Council Senior Policy Aide
  • Humphrey Policy Fellow
  • Child Nutrition Outreach Coordinator, MN Department of Education
  • Community Nutrition Educator, University of Minnesota[5]

Coalition Builder

Community Leader

Legislative accomplishments

  • Helped allocate $5 million for outreach and prevention education to raise awareness during a measles outbreak and encourage vaccines.
  • Allocated $400,000 to the Somali Museum of Arts and $350,000 for the expansion and renovation of the Brian Coyle Community Center in the Cedar Riverside neighborhood.
  • Passed legislation to increase funding summer enrichment programs for low income students who may be unfamiliar with a higher education experience.
  • Passed $77 million in Statewide Affordable Housing and Homelessness Infrastructure bonds to improve housing, including $10 million for Public Housing Rehabilitation.
  • Expanded childcare grants for student parents and fought for them to receive a tax credit.
  • Negotiated over $200 million in bonding packages to improve our infrastructure in district.
  • Passed $15 and paid sick and safe time in Minneapolis.
  • Introduced HF 4201, requiring a counselor in every school in Minnesota.
  • Introduced HF 3434, eliminating the statute of limitations for sex offenses.
  • Introduced HF 2949, changing lease requirements to fight student exploitation
  • Introduced HF 2630, funding the prevention of measles outbreaks in immigrant communities[8]

Primary victory/family allegations

Ilhan Omar, whose victory in a Minneapolis DFL primary last week virtually assured her of becoming the nation’s first Somali-American legislator, denied recent reports that she married her brother to commit immigration fraud while remaining married to the man who is the father of her three children.

“Allegations that she married her brother and is legally married to two people are categorically ridiculous and false,” campaign spokesman Ben Goldfarb said Monday.

The questions surfaced over the weekend in a report on the conservative website Power Line, which reported that Omar was married to two men at the same time, including to her brother.

Omar spent part of her childhood in a refugee camp in Kenya before immigrating to the United States as a child knowing little English.

Hennepin County records show Omar applied for a marriage license in 2002 but never used it. It was not immediately known whom she planned to marry. Seven years later, Omar married Ahmed Nur Said Elmi in Eden Prairie, according to their marriage record. Elmi could not be reached for comment. Minnesota courts have no records of Omar and Elmi filing for divorce.

Her campaign flatly denied that Elmi is her brother. It would only say that she and Ahmed Hirsi, who is pictured in campaign literature and is the father of their three children, are together and raising a family. The Star Tribune could not find records in Minnesota showing that the two ever married.

Her campaign website reads: “Ilhan, her husband and three children live in the West Bank neighborhood of District 60B.”

The most recent voter registration records show Omar and Hirsi living at the same West Bank address.

“Like a lot of families, she and Hirsi, the father of their three children, have had ups and downs, have weathered some storms, but what matters is that they came out of it together,” Goldfarb said. He declined to offer more details.[9]

Sanctuary City Taskforce

During a meeting in February 2017 to condemn President Donald Trump and "form a Sanctuary City Task Force to better protect and defend undocumented families, Muslim residents and refugees," Minneapolis City Council Ilhan Omar was quoted as saying:

“This ban on refugees is rooted in racism and Islamophobia. It perpetuates harmful misconceptions about refugees and immigrants and people of diverse religions and backgrounds.”[10]

Pessenda support

Jillia Pessenda was a leader in the successful legislative campaign of Ilhan Omar.

Women's March


Claims to be a victim of a hate crime

In December 2016, Ilhan Omar claimed[11] to be the victim of "hateful, derogatory, islamophobic, sexist taunts and threats" by a Washington D.C. taxi driver, who she later described as "African immigrant."

On Facebook, Ilhan Omar wrote:

"...On my way to our hotel, I got in a cab and became subjected to the most hateful, derogatory, islamophobic, sexist taunts and threats I have ever experienced. The cab driver called me ISIS and threatened to remove my hijab, I wasn't really sure how this encounter would end as I attempted to rush out of his cab and retrieve my belongs. I am still shaken by this incident and can't wrap my head around how bold being are becoming in displaying their hate towards Muslims..."

Ilhan Omar did not report the incident to police, claiming that she "believe[s] criminalizing hate is not a solution and will only strengthen individual malice." This reasoning conflicted with a Facebook post where Ilhan Omar "said she would report the incident to authorities once she returned to Minnesota, citing concerns for her safety because the driver knew the location of her hotel."[12]

Our Revolution

Ilhan Omar
Ilhan Omar was featured as a candidate by Our Revolution, an organization run by former campaign workers and supporters of former socialist presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.[13]

Twin Cities DSA connection

Nic Raymond, co-chair of Twin Cities Democratic Socialists of America on Ilhan Omar endorsement.

"Should TCDSA Endorse Ilhan Omar + other endorsement thoughts"

Dear Members of Twin Cities DSA,

It’s happening again. Over 100 people joined Twin Cities DSA in the course of two weeks in the end of June, between massive anti-ICE mobilization, a local Single Payer Strategy conference, and the victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York. We count over 700 members in the metro (probably 800 at the time of this writing, to be honest). Our last general meeting had over 180 attendees. With the growth in membership and energy has come an interest from politicians and officials seeking our endorsement and getting involved. As a co-chair of the chapter, I am torn between my belief that leaders should keep politicking to a minimum but also a feeling that I have an important analysis of where our chapter is, where it can go, and what it needs to do. To that end, here are some personal arguments I have regarding endorsements.
I really like Ilhan Omar. I will absolutely be voting for her at the ballot box. I will probably even knock some doors and make some phone calls for her campaign. I do not think Twin Cities DSA should endorse her.

Members of Twin Cities DSA and the Omar campaign reached out to me shortly after Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (AOC) victory in New York seeking a DSA endorsement. I informed them of our process, that it would have to be a majority vote by general meeting. We had a discussion about what a meaningful endorsement would be like; some suggestions were getting socialists onto her policy team, collaborating around Medicare for All, and others. Her campaign assured me that they were interested in an honest, two-way relationship.
I have great respect for the organizers at Omar’s campaign and have no doubt of their dedication to economic and racial justice, but a ‘two-way’ relationship with the Omar campaign is increasingly hard to picture. Omar has the support of not only left-wing-of-DFL organizations with far more power and money than DSA (TakeAction, OutFront, MoveOn, Center for Popular Democracy) but also endorsement from the more establishment figures of the party (Mark Dayton, Jacob Frey, the official DFL endorsement). What AOC did in New York with the help of DSA is truly remarkable, and it makes sense that candidates want to replicate it. But consider the differences between AOC and Omar in their campaigns:
Cortez was challenging a 14-year incumbent known as part of the national Democratic establishment. Omar is running for an open seat vacated by one of the most visible Progressive Caucus leaders and a champion for Medicare for All and a $15 minimum wage.
Alexandria Cortez was a member of NYC DSA and active in their chapter. While I’ve been told Omar considers herself a democratic socialist, I’ve been unable to find any public mention of this.
Cortez was a long shot. Omar is, by my judgment, far and away the front runner in the CD5 race.

NYC DSA is a massive organization that collaborated closely with Justice Democrats and Brand New Congress to build an effective GOTV machine and mobilize mass volunteers. Twin Cities DSA, while still the best DSA chapter on the planet (unbiased opinion), has only gotten its electoral muscles working after the conclusion of the Ginger Jentzen campaign and is not yet in a position to provide meaningful, crucial support.
The Omar campaign and I were honest with each other that in no way was DSA providing the crucial number of votes that the campaign needed to get over the top. That means, then, that an Omar endorsement would be mostly about image, messaging, and narrative. These kinds of paper endorsements feel at odds with what kind of organization I want DSA to be. An honest relationship with a candidate is not just me being skeptical of politicians- it’s also that I want to be respectful and genuine. If TCDSA endorsed Omar, and Omar won a seat in congress, I would feel absolutely gross if some leftist rag wrote an article like “Democratic Socialists Of America Just Elected A Somali Refugee To Congress. Checkmate, Pelosi.”
DSA cannot have the same electoral approach as an Our Revolution or a MoveOn. Our goal is not to get the leftmost-possible candidates elected; it’s to build an independent, self-run institution that is democratically accountable with an end goal of building socialism. To this end, we must be strategic and measured in how we engage in electoral politics.
There are a ton of candidates seeking our endorsement. Only a handful of them are members of DSA. These candidates should be the ones you think most honestly about voting to endorse. Ask them about how they’ll build the organization, how they’ll be accountable to us, what they’ll do for building people power.
There are a couple of candidates with existing campaigns who have just recently asked for our endorsement who are not members. We should ask these people: Are you a socialist? Will you openly run as a socialist? What will you do to build democratic socialism if elected?

There are a handful of candidates who are not members and who, frankly, appear to have only a Facebook page as their campaign apparatus. We should ask these candidates: Why are you running? Why do you want our endorsement? Do you have a chance of winning?
What is happening in DSA right now is truly powerful and is starting to look like a credible threat to the capitalist consensus. It’s too precious and too beautiful right now for us to fall into the trap of being flattered that everyone suddenly wants to be our best friend.
in solidarity,
Nic Raymond[14]

"Democratic socialist"

A campaign staffer for Ilhan Omar told the crowd at a Twin Cities Democratic Socialists of America meeting. “She is proud to call herself a democratic socialist, she’s very excited about this. So I hope you guys endorse us, too."[15]

Southside Pride endorsement

From Ed Felien, founder of Southside Pride:

The hardest choice in the August 14 Primary for people in South Minneapolis has to be the choice between State Representative Ilhan Omar and State Senator Patricia Torres Ray for Congress in the 5th Congressional District.
Ilhan has national recognition as the first Somali representative in a State Legislature. She is endorsed by the DFL and Our Revolution. She supports abolishing ICE, is very progressive, and she brought home bacon for her district.
When Ellison was thinking about resigning as 5th District Congressperson a year ago, we supported Patricia for his seat:

“Five and a half years ago we ran a full-page photo of Senator Patricia Torres Ray on the cover of Southside Pride. In 25 years of publishing we have published a full-page photo on our cover only that one time—when a brave Latina first-term legislator stood in front of the Cub Store on Lake Street supporting the cleaning staff on strike. She was the only elected official there.”

When Ilhan Omar ran against Phyllis Kahn, the incumbent who had served 44 years in the legislature, Patricia Torres Ray was the only elected official to endorse her.

Either of these two women would be a great choice for Congress. But we have to pick one.
I believe we have to trust and respect the leadership in the DFL and Our Revolution and vote for Ilhan Omar for Congress.

But, we have to remember and respect the record and leadership of Patricia Torres Ray.[16]

National Nurses United endorsement

National Nurses United 2018 endorsements included Ilhan Omar MN 5.

"Green New Deal"

From the Sunrise Movement:[17]


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has released a proposal for a Select Committee on a Green New Deal, a plan that would transform our economy and society at the scale needed to stop the climate crisis.

We have the momentum to make a Green New Deal real, but we need a critical mass of Congresspeople to support the proposal.

Take action on Dec. 10 to show Congress the Green New Deal is a top priority.

Congressional supporters by December 1 2018:

CPD endorsement

Jennifer Epps-Addison from Center for Popular Democracy Action endorsed Ilhan Omar.


Ilhan Omar for Congress, July 13 2018.

Progressive values mean uplifting the voices to those who have been pushed out—immigrants, working class families, those who were formerly incarcerated. That’s why I’m proud to have the endorsement of CPD Action.

We’re fighting for a future that works for everyone.

National Nurses United Endorses Ilhan Omar for Congress

August 09, 2018 National Nurses United, the nation's largest union of registered nurses, today announced its endorsement of state legislator Ilhan Omar for U.S. Congress to represent Minnesota’s 5th district.

Ilhan Omar is a champion for economic and social justice and a fighter for all Minnesotans,” said Jean Ross, RN and Co-President of National Nurses United, which represents over 150,000 RNs across the United States. “Ilhan understands the health care crisis in this country and the urgency in moving to a single payer, Medicare for All healthcare system that guarantees health care for everyone in this country, and that’s an important reason why registered nurses are behind her 100%.”

“Ilhan is campaigning for economic justice for working families, environmental justice so we have clean air and water and save the planet from climate catastrophe, and reforming our criminal justice system-- all issues of importance to our members, the bedside nurses in our hospitals and clinics, who are advocates for our patients and our communities,” Ross continued.

“Minnesota nurses support State Rep. Omar for her strong record in the Minnesota legislature of advocating for workers’ rights and the rights of everyone in our communities,” added Mary Turner, RN, President of the Minnesota Nurses Association, NNU’s affiliate in Minnesota. “We are excited to support Ilhan who shares nurses’ values of caring, compassion and community.”

“I’m proud to have earned this endorsement,” Omar said. “Nurses are America’s most trusted profession. I’m proud to have stood with Minnesota nurses on the picket lines and in the fight for better protections. Nurses organize with compassion and that’s the type of politics we need.

“Our campaign has been endorsed by the DFL, unions, elected officials across the district, progressive organizations and on Tuesday we would be honored to earn the endorsement of the Congressional District 5 residents,” Omar continued.[18]

Trump’s "Muslim ban" protest

Minneapolis, MN - On June 26 2018, over 600 protesters rallied at the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Minneapolis and then marched through downtown to protest the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold President Trump’s Muslim ban. The rally was organized by the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the MN Anti-War Committee (AWC) as an emergency response to the Court’s 5-4 decision in Trump v. Hawaii.

Since being elected, President Trump has tried to implement his Muslim ban three times. Each time, thousands of Minnesotans have taken to the streets and to the airport to call Trump out on his attempt to put anti-Muslim bigotry into law.

Jaylani Hussein, executive director of CAIR - Minnesota, started off the protest. “I am here today on land stolen from Native Americans. I am standing here today with still the fear, the anger, all the emotions that we have felt this week - in North Minneapolis with Thurman Blevins loss. I am here today with the same horrific feeling that we saw on the border of this nation when children were removed from their parents and put into child prisons. I am here today in solidarity with all of the struggles and know that many of us are reminded of this every single day. So, what I want to tell you today is they have come for the Muslims but they are coming for everybody. The Supreme Court today was wrong, and we have to say that!”

Speaker Tracy Molm, a member of the Anti-War Committee, explained the connection between Trump’s immigration policy and his foreign policy, “It is immoral for the Court to not see this ban for what it is – justification for a racist federal policy that attacks people from countries that the U.S. is bombing or threatening to bomb. We need to demand not only an end to the Muslim ban but to demand an end to U.S. drone strikes and special forces operations in Somalia, to an end to intervention in Syria, to war threats on North Korea and Iran and to threats to topple the government of Venezuela. Trump’s racist Muslim ban is directly related to his policy of expanding U.S. warfare and threats in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America.”

Mohamud Mohamed, an organizer with the Young Muslims Collective, gave an impassioned speech: “If legality is a measure for morality for you then you’re doing it wrong. If every time we tell you that these things are eating at the heart of our community and are tearing us apart and you say ‘Well the state legislature passed it...I don’t know what to say’ or ‘your state rep or the mayor said it was ok’ or ‘Andrew Luger said it was moral’ ...legality can never be a measure of what is moral because we have seen what that does to our country. We’ve seen policies that have pursued that we have known for a fact are unethical and fly in the face of what it means to be human. And the only thing evil needs is the silence of good people.”

Other speakers at the rally included U.S. Representative Keith Ellison; the civil rights director from CAIR Amir Malik; Gordon Nakagawa from the Twin Cities Japanese American Citizens League; State Representative Ilhan Omar; Samantha Sanchez from the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee; Rachel English from Jewish Community Action; Sarah Brenes from Advocates from Human Rights, and Leilah Issa from the Palestinian Youth Movement.

John Keller, executive director at the Immigrant Law Center, said, “Just Sunday, President Trump explained his preference that anyone arriving on the southern border should be deprived of access to a court and deprived access to due process. These are elements of a similar policy that represents intolerance and I believe it represents a clear and present threat to our democracy.”[19]


Ilhan Omar won endorsements from the Sierra Club for her bold climate agenda demanding 100% renewable energy by 2035, as well as National Nurses United, Our Revolution, and a number of other progressive organizations.

"Ilhan Omar's victory joins a wave of primary wins for climate progressives," said 350 Action executive director May Boeve. "Her campaign is lifting up climate action and challenging Big Oil billionaires as part of a broad platform for justice. Minnesotans deserve a representative in Congress who's willing to fight against dangerous fossil fuel projects like Line 3 and support the transition to a 100 percent renewable energy economy that puts millions of Americans to work."[20]


Minneapolis City Council member Andrew Johnson was described at National Public Radio as Ilhan Omar's "mentor and friend."[21]

The same report referenced Ilhan Omar's colleague and executive director of Women Organizing Women Network Habon Abdulle as praising Ilhan Omar for winning her candidacy as state representative in Minnesota.

"Minneapolis said no to the narrative of making America hate again. Minneapolis tonight said yes to diversity. Minneapolis, and [the] 60B district particularly, you said Muslim women have space in the governing body of our state. Thank you."

Hussam Ayloush connection

Hussam Ayloush August 5 2018:


With Yousuf Bhaghani, Aleem Bilwani and Mehdi Hirji in Anaheim, California.

Students for Ilhan Omar

Students for Ilhan Omar November 6 2018:

With Cassidy Drummond and Jenny Howard, Riley Fletcher, Claire Anderson, Sonia Neculescu, Guillermo Perez Soberanes and Payton West.

Epps-Addison connection

Jennifer Epps-Addison November 16 2018:


Jennifer Epps-Addison, Ilhan Omar, Mark Pocan, Rashida Tlaib.

CPC new members

2018 Congressional Progressive Caucus new members included Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Deb Haaland, Veronica Escobar, Jesus Garcia, Joe Neguse, Andy Levin, Mike Levin.[22]


  1. 13 Iconic Women Who Nevertheless Persisted, accessed February 8 2017
  2. Ilhan Omar's Twitter Page, accessed February 8 2017
  3. [ From Refugee to St. House Race, Ilhan Omar Looks to Break New Ground, accessed February 8, 2017]
  4. [1]
  5. [2]
  6. [3]
  7. [4]
  8. [5]
  9. [ discrepancy clouds Ilhan Omar's historic primary victory Website claims candidate is married to two men, including her brother. By J. Patrick Coolican Star Tribune AUGUST 16, 2016]
  10. Minneapolis City Council condemns Trump travel ban; directs city to protect refugees, accessed February 8, 2017
  11. First Somali-American Lawmaker Threatened And Called ‘ISIS’ By Racist Cab Driver, accessed February 8, 2017
  12. Minnesota: Muslim state rep claims “Islamophobic” harassment, doesn’t report it to cops, accessed February 8, 2017
  13. Founding Statement of Our Revolution Board of Directors, accessed October 27, 2016
  14. Ray Jul 18 Should TCDSA Endorse Ilhan Omar + other endorsement thoughts
  15. [ Refinery 29, The Reds Are Coming—& They're Young, Female, & Determined To Win America's Heartland TOREY VAN OOT SEPTEMBER 10, 2018]
  16. Primary Election August 14; The hardest choice, Ed Felien August 6, 2018
  17. [6]
  18. [7]
  19. [8]
  20. [9]
  21. Somali Refugee Makes History In U.S. Election, accessed February 10, 2017
  22. [10]