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The New Arab Staff

First Muslim-American Congresswoman Ilhan Omar loses father to coronavirus

Omar has been at the forefront of promoting progressive policies. [Facebook]

Date of publication: 16 June, 2020

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Her father came to the US from a refugee camp in Kenya in 1995.
US Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar on Monday announced the death of her father due to complications linked to Covid-19.

In a statement which began with an Arabic quote from the Quran, Omar said her father, Nur Omar Mohamed, died Monday from the disease which has taken the lives of more than 118,000 people.

"‎Surely we belong to God and to Him shall we return. It is with tremendous sadness and pain that I share that my father, Nur Omar Mohamed, passed away today due to complications from COVID-19," she wrote

"No words can describe what he meant to me and all who knew him. My family and I ask for your respect and privacy during this time."

Due to the death of her mother when Omar was aged-two, she has opened up about her close relationships with her father and grandfather in interviews.

Her father came to the United States from a refugee camp in Kenya in 1995, escaping with Omar from the civil war in Somalia, their country of origin, before settling in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the state she represents.

Omar said her father's encouragement was a huge reason for her decision to pursue a career in politics.

"At a very young age, I was made to believe I had a role in creating my own destiny. I was a tiny kid, but I always refused to acknowledge this. I believed I was somehow both bigger and more invisible," she told The Guardian 

"What happened was that my father's father would call us into his room before school, and he would say we were Arawelos. Do you know who Arawelo was? She was, some say, a mythical queen: small in stature, but mighty in the way she ruled. There is a grave in what is now Somaliland: the women throw flowers at it and the men throw rocks."

She said these formative years helped her stand up to bullies at school when she was young, and instilled in her a stubbornness that helps on the political trail.

Omar one of the first two Muslim congresswomen - , along with Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib - elected in 2018 and the first to wear a hijab on the House floor.

Omar has been at the forefront of promoting progressive policies, including the defunding and reconstruction of the Minneapolis Police Department.

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