Who is Ilhan Omar?

US congresswoman is on her four-day visit to Pakistan
Art: SAMAA Digital/ Yawar Yaseen
Art: SAMAA Digital/ Yawar Yaseen

The United States Congresswoman Ilhan Omar in her maiden visit to Pakistan met with President Dr Arif Alvi, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and PTI Chairperson Imran Khan on Wednesday.

According to the statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office, the congresswoman is on a four-day visit to Pakistan where she will visit Lahore and Azad Jammu and Kashmir to have a greater understanding of Pakistan's cultural, social, political, and economic potential.

The 39-year-old Omar belongs to the Democrats and represents the State of Minnesota in Congress. She is the first Somali-American legislator and one of the two Muslim women elected to the US Congress in 2018. Omar was sworn into office in January 2019.

Born in Somalia, Omar’s family fled the country’s civil war when she was eight. The family spent four years in a refugee camp in Kenya before coming to the United States in the 1990s. In 1997, she moved to Minneapolis with her family.

Stance on Kashmir

Omar has stalwartly supported Kashmiris and has been vocal against the Indian atrocities in the valley.

In 2019, Omar had called for an immediate restoration of communication, respect for human rights, and religious freedom when the Indian government unilaterally scrapped the law that grants special status to Indian occupied Kashmir, saying that the international organisations should be allowed to fully document what is happening on the ground.

‘Islamophobia pervades our culture’

In 2021, Omar had tabled legislation to create a special envoy combatting Islamophobia following anti-Muslim comments by her colleague calling the Minnesota Democrat a terrorist.

She highlighted that Islamophobia pervades the US’ culture, politics and even policy decisions suggesting that Muslim women are all oppressed, or that Muslims hate other religions.

‘Omar not allowed to enter Israel’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu banned the two Democratic U.S. congresswomen from visiting Israel and the Palestinian territories over their remarks on the Israeli government and Trump's unwavering support of suppressing Palestinians.

The two representatives also had voted against a nonbinding resolution condemning a Palestinian-led movement calling for boycotts, divestment and sanctions in Israel, which they have repeatedly defended.

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