llhan Abdullahi Omar - Minnesota's 5th Congressional District

by Abigail Richardson from MY HERO Staff

llhan Abdullahi Omar, born on October 4, 1982, is a notable American politician affiliated with the Democratic Party. Since 2019, she has been serving as the U.S. Representative for Minnesota's 5th congressional district. Before her congressional role, Omar held a position in the Minnesota House of Representatives from 2017 to 2019, where she represented a section of Minneapolis. Her district encompasses all of Minneapolis and parts of its first-ring suburbs.

152810Ilhan OmarWiki Commons

Within Congress, Omar holds the position of whip in the Congressional Progressive Caucus. She is known for advocating policies such as a $15 minimum wage, universal healthcare, student loan debt forgiveness, protection for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, and the abolition of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Additionally, she has been a vocal critic of Israel, supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. She has voiced opposition to Israeli settlement policies and military actions in the occupied Palestinian territories and has expressed concerns about the influence of pro-Israel lobbies in American politics.

In February 2023, the Republican-controlled House took a significant step by voting to remove Omar from her seat on the Foreign Affairs Committee, citing her past comments regarding Israel and concerns over her objectivity.

Omar holds a historic place in the U.S. Congress. She is the first Somali American to serve in this capacity and also the first woman of color to represent Minnesota. Furthermore, she shares the distinction of being one of the first two Muslim women in Congress, alongside Rashida Tlaib. Despite her achievements, Omar has faced numerous challenges, including death threats and derogatory comments from political opponents, including former President Donald Trump, due to her background.


Omar was born in Mogadishu on October 4, 1982. She spent her formative years in Baidoa, Somalia, as the youngest of seven siblings. Her father, Nur Omar Mohamed, was a former colonel in the Somali army and an educator, while her mother, Fadhuma Abukar Haji Hussein, passed away when Ilhan was just two years old. Raised by her father and grandfather, who held moderate Sunni Muslim beliefs, Omar's family fled the Somali Civil War, spending four years in a refugee camp in Kenya before securing asylum in the United States. In 1995, they arrived in New York, briefly resided in Arlington, Virginia, and eventually settled in Minneapolis. In Minneapolis, her father worked as a taxi driver and later for the postal service.

Throughout her upbringing, Omar's family emphasized the importance of democracy. At age 14, she accompanied her grandfather to caucus meetings, serving as his interpreter. She faced school bullying during her time in Virginia, primarily due to her Somali appearance and wearing of the hijab.

Omar attended Thomas Edison High School and graduated in 2001. She then went on to graduate from North Dakota State University in 2011, majoring in political science and international studies. She continued her education as a Policy Fellow at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs. In 2000, when she was 17 years old, Ilhan Omar became a U.S. citizen.

Page created on 10/3/2023 4:48:40 PM

Last edited 10/3/2023 6:17:16 PM

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Related Links

Ilhan Omar - Rep. Ilhan Omar represents Minnesota's 5th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, which includes Minneapolis and surrounding suburbs. See her homepage here.