Ilhan Omar: The American politician 'serving' two countries

Tuesday February 06 2024

Minnesota Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar speaks in Minneapolis, Minnesota, US on November 6, 2018. PHOTO | AFP


American congresswoman Ilhan Omar is no stranger to controversy. But she probably did not expect that a low-key speech she made on January 27 to a gathering of Somali-Americans in Minnesota — delivered in the Somali language — would cause a political storm.

What she said on that day may have touched on many subjects, but some segments of the speech touched a raw nerve of Somalilanders. Then it ignited controversy in the US with political rivals baying for her blood.

Omar, of course, was born in Somalia 41 years ago in today’s South West State. Somaliland is the region of Somalia that unilaterally declared independence in 1991 following the fall of the government of Siad Barre.

Omar’s father had served as a colonel in Barre’s army but he had to flee with his family via Kenya before settling in the US in 1995. Omar is thus firmly an American citizen but with roots in Somalia.

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