I presented “The curious case of Ilhan Omar” last year for City Journal and followed up in “Ilhan Omar’s many firsts.” Omar has won renown as the first elected Somali-American legislator. She serves as the Democrats’ deputy minority leader in the Minnesota House of Representatives and is legally married to a fellow she won’t talk about, probably because he is her brother and she married him for dishonest purposes. Her “cultural” husband is the father of her children.
Whatever the truth of her tangled backstory, Omar really doesn’t want to talk about it. In their post-election profile of Omar, Star Tribune reporters Ricardo Lopez and Faiza Mahamud tried to clarify it. This was the best they could do:
Omar is not legally married to Ahmed Hirsi, who is the father of her three children. She said they’d had an Islamic marriage that ended in 2008 when they reached “an impasse in our life together.” She later met and married Ahmed Nur Said Elmi, a British citizen and the man alleged to be her brother, in 2009 in Hennepin County. After that relationship ended, Omar said she reconciled with Hirsi and remarried in their faith.
She said she’s still in the process of divorcing Elmi and declined further comment.
Omar is not inclined to talk to any journalist disposed to ask her knowledgeable questions about what happened here. She naturally prefers the royal celebrity treatment she gets from MSNBC and Time. Because she is who she is, she can get away with it.
I should never write about Omar without crediting the dogged work of Preya Samsundar at Alpha News, as I do in the first City Journal column linked above. Preya picked up the story in 2016 where I left off and has doggedly pursued it. Omar will not sit for an interview with Preya.
The students of St. Paul Academy and Summit School put out a newspaper they call the Rubicon, dating back to the year of the merger of the two schools in 1969. I taught the journalism course and helped the students put out the newspaper the year before I went to law school. I should like to think my students would have asked tougher questions than Omar fielded in the Rubicon’s exclusive interview with Omar. As it is, the interview is at least up to the standards of MSNBC and Time.
Quotable quote: “For me the challenge is to remember that all of these people are in the business of diminishing our power, our light, and getting us to the point where we are afraid of our own voices so we whisper.”