Love her or hate her, Ilhan Abdullahi Omar is the biggest and I dare say, best news that has happened to the Muslim Americans in recent years. Her victory as the Democratic Party candidate in the Minnesota House of Representatives election on November 8, 2016 was described by Time Magazine as a ‘groundbreaking moment for American Muslims’, because of her, “Congress had to change its rules to allow her to wear her hijab on the floor”, as the first and the only hijab-wearing member in the House, ending the 181 years old ban of hat, including kippahs, hijabs and turbans.
Born in Mogadishu, Somalia on October 4, 1982, Ms Omar has been critical of President Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim policies, which she described as discriminatory. In fact, she has been seen by many pundits as Trump’s most potent nightmare and she is surely giving the unapologetic Islamophobic President a run for his money.
Ms Omar came on board at the right time of history; a period when the Islamophobic Trump placed a ban on travellers from predominantly Muslim countries, including Chad, Iran, Libya, Syria Yemen, and Somalia from entering the US.
Ilhan Omar, being a refugee from Somalia, criticised this travel ban policy in Congress. She, in fact addressed the American press where she described the policy as “destructive for millions of people around the world.” She stressed that, “Since the ban was effected, it has deterred dreams, separated families and deprived people of life-saving healthcare and blocked access to education”.
Trump was also challenged by the Somali-born American politician, who said at a rally on July, 2019, that, “The Muslim ban is a discriminatory ban that creates needless suffering and family separation. We are a country that celebrates inclusivity and diversity. We need to #RepealTheBan and live up to our values.”
Going a step further in the fight against Trump’s cruel immigration policy, Ms Omar was a co-sponsor and major supporter of the” No Ban Act” in the Congress which is intended to limit the President’s power to restrict individuals from certain countries from entering the US. Omar is also prominent for advocating a living wage, affordable housing, universal healthcare, student loan debt forgiveness and abolishing US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Congresswoman Omar and her colleagues, including the second Muslim in Congress, Rashidat Tlaib, a Palestinian-American politician didn’t hide their unwavering love for Palestine – also, one of the most oppressed Muslim countries in the world, as they voiced support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against the apartheid Israeli state over its many cases of violation of Palestinians right to basic human rights and freedoms.
She didn’t only push for a resolution which supports the constitutional right of Americans to participate in boycotts in pursuit of civil and human rights, Ms Omar has continued to condemn Israel’s illegal settlement policy and genocidal military attacks in the occupied Palestinian territories, and what she describes as the influence of pro-Israel lobbies.
Her frequent criticism of Israeli lawlessness hit Benjamin Netanyahu (Israeli PM) and other Zionist apologists and pro-lobbyists in the Congress to the marrow. The way they could vent their anger, as exerted by Trump, was to ban her from entering Palestine, when in 2019, Omar alongside Ms Tlaib planned to visit the latter’s 95 year grandmother in West Bank, Palestine where Israeli authorities have continued illegal expansion of settlements on stolen Palestinian lands.
This among others, have made her to be “subjected to several death threats, conspiracy theories, other harassment by political opponents and false and misleading claims by Donald Trump”, including a purported plan to get another candidate that will oust Ms Omar from Congress in the next election. Omar responded, in a tweet, “I am sorry Mr. @realDonaldTrump. I am for real, you can’t #MuslimBan us from Congress!”.
All these attacks, according to analysts, revealed the disturbing truth about Islamophobia, racism in the United States and it’s on this note, we at Muslim News, didn’t only HONOUR and CELEBRATE Ms Omar for changing the face of American politics in fighting for Muslim rights but also call on the American Muslim community, who are part of the religious minority group, to rally round the Congresswoman despite her shortcomings and frail views on some matters in her bid to fight for equal opportunity for all Americans.
NOTE: Although, like every other human being, Ilhan Omar is not perfect. She has her shortcomings. May Allah bless her with the strength and courage to do more for Islam and the oppressed Muslims. Ameen
– Rasheed Abubakar, publisher, Muslim News Nigeria
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