Kirsters Baish| ICYMI April 2019 – Democratic Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar, a Somalian refugee, appeared on the cover of Vogue Arabia, causing an uproar after she was recently have found to have made anti-semitic comments.
“To me, the hijab means power, liberation, beauty, and resistance,” Omar argued.
In countries like Iran, many women are forced to wear the hijab, and if they are found not wearing it, they face being arrested and punished. These women might not see things the same way that Omar does.
During her interview with Vogue Arabia, she went on to make even more controversial comments, even attacking President Donald Trump.
Omar explained that she fled Somalia during the Somali civil war, which took place in 1991. According to Diamond & Silk, she then “stayed in a refugee camp in Kenya for four years, before coming to the United States.”
Omar stated during the interview, “It was the first time that all of the identities I carried and had pride in, became a source of tension,” she recalls. “When you’re a kid and you’re raised in an all-black, all- Muslim environment, nobody really talks to you about your identity. You just are. There is freedom in knowing that you are accepted as your full self. So the notion that there is a conflict with your identity in society was hard at the age of 12.”
Omar went on to say that living in “President Trump’s America” was an “everyday assault.”
As the US representative for Minnesota’s 5th congressional district, one of Omar’s policies includes promoting and establishing a just immigration system; something that is at odds with the current political climate in the country. “It’s challenging,” she says of living in President Trump’s America, where her status and heritage is constantly criticized. “It’s an everyday assault. Every day, a part of your identity is threatened, demonized, and vilified. Trump is tapping into an ugly part of our society and freeing its ugliness. It’s been a challenge to try to figure out how to continue the inclusion; how to show up every day and make sure that people who identify with all the marginalized identities I carry, feel represented. It’s transitioning from the idea of constantly resisting to insisting in upholding the values we share – that this is a society that was built on the idea that you could start anew. And what that celebrates is immigrant heritage.”
Omar and her family were warmly welcomed in the United States, with her being voted onto state legislature, then onto the House of Representatives.
“America has given her a platform and the power to do and say anything she wants, something that she would be unable to do in many other countries. Her home country, however, while she was safely here, was determined to be one of the worst places in the world to be a woman,” Diamond & Silk explain.
“I’m completely surprised because I thought Somalia would be first on the list, not fifth,” said Maryan Qasim.
The lawless country has been engulfed in conflict for 20 years. But the greatest risk to women’s lives is not war but birth. One woman dies for every 100 live births, according to U.N. figures — one of the highest rates in the world.
“The most dangerous thing a woman in Somalia can do is to become pregnant,” Qasim said. “When a woman becomes pregnant her life is 50-50 because there is no antenatal care at all … There are no hospitals, no healthcare, no nothing.”
The poll by TrustLaw (www.trust.org/trustlaw), a legal news service run by Thomson Reuters Foundation, marked the launch of its new TrustLaw Women section, a global hub of news and information on women’s legal rights.
TrustLaw asked more than 200 gender experts to pick the world’s most dangerous countries for women. Somalia trailed behind Afghanistan, Congo, Pakistan and India.
But Qasim described Somalia as a “living hell” for women struggling to feed their children amid war and drought.
The constant risk of getting shot or raped, the lack of education and healthcare and practices like female genital mutilation make women’s lives unbelievably hard, she said.
Diamond & Silk explain, “All this was compounded by Islamist rebels including Al Shabaab who wanted to impose their version of sharia law on the country, according to Qasim.”
Living in America is a treat.