Ilhan Omar Heckled at Somali Cultural Event in Minneapolis

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) received a not so warm reception at an event in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Saturday, July 2nd. She was greeted with a loud boo from the audience who were there to hear Somali performer Suldaan Seeraar as part of Somali Week celebrations.

The reason why the crowd was so hostile is a matter of speculation. A look at Somali social topics offers a few possibilities.

Somalia is in fact, to put it politely, an auto-murdering country in shambles. According to the CIA's website:

Somalia has a very low score for many indicators of human rights, suffering poor governance, prolonged internal conflict, underdevelopment poorness, economic policies,  degrading gender and social inequalities, and environmental degradation.

It continues:

Lack of education and employment opportunities is the main cause of tension for Somalia's vast young population, which makes them susceptible to being recruited by pirate and extremist groups. Somalia is home to one of the most low primary school enrollment rates at just 40 percent of children, and it has one of the highest rates of youth unemployment. The low life expectancy is because of the high maternal and infant mortality rates and increasing prevalence of avoidable illnesses and sanitation issues in the country, chronic malnutrition, as well as insufficient health care services.

Not surprising, it's far from a trendy area. 

Presently, Somalia is the third largest source of refugees, behind Syria and Afghanistan. Insecurity, drought, flooding, food shortages, as well as an absence of opportunities for economic growth are the main reasons.

The Somalia-to Minnesota pipeline on its surface is an odd decision that could be a result of climate change, if nothing else. However, it appears that Minnesotans are a friendly group, as CBS News reported in 2019.

The second is the help from volunteer local resettlement agencies who work with the government to assist refugees get housing, education, and work. Minnesota's agencies, such as Lutheran Social Services, Arrive Ministries, International Institute of Minnesota, and Minnesota Council of Churches, have a long-standing history of successful resettlements for refugees.

Dr. Samatar also pointed to Minnesota's robust economy that gave Somali-Americans work opportunities (many in the western part of Minnesota) and opportunities to study, health care, and an environment that is safe to live in.

“And the state of Minnesota has always been considered a kind and successful place,” he added.

The move has its drawbacks, according to FOX News in 2019:

Many investigators are frustrated in eliminating violent gangs that remain an issue not only in Somalia, but also in the Somali gang, and in the surrounding regions too. A proper elimination of gangs and the stress of police and imposes a dual approach. Gang activity has shifted and is not centered around bigger outfits like MS-13 and the Crips. The most common here are smaller gangs known by names such as “Somali Mafia,” “Somali Outlaws,” “Young n' Thuggin (YNT)” and even the “Taliban.”

“It's difficult for any community to accept and then instantly change from the way they had lived. However, the distrust is only growing,” said an area police official. “The crime gangs are only increasing. The problem is that not only are crimes going unsolved, they also don't get reported at all.”

Also, in 2017, there was the murder of an unarmed civilian Justine Ruszczyk (she was known as her husband's name Damond at the time of her death) by a Minneapolis Police officer, as well as Somalian native Somalian Mohamed Noor further exacerbating tensions between the communities.

Somalia's official faith is Sunni Muslim, the largest segment of Islam. The adherents of Sunni Islam are a quite strict bunch, leading to a distinct absence of Pride parades throughout Somalia and the Middle East.

A few modern scholars have argued that the reason for the Islamic hatred of homosexuality can be attributed to “the adoption of European Victorian attitudes by the new Westernized elite.” For over 1,000 years it has not been the case. Islamic tradition has derived its beliefs regarding homosexuality from the stories of Muhammad's viewpoint found in the hadith. Muhammad is mentioned by the Quran (the word of Allah) as the ‘perfect model' (uswa hasana) for the entire human race. Muhammad advised, “If you find anyone doing as Lot's people did, kill the one who does it, and the one to whom it is done.” He also condemned the simple “appearance” of homosexuality, in which he cursed the effeminate men as well as masculine women, and commanded the followers of his to “Turn them out of your houses.”

Let's now compare this with Rep. Omar's views regarding the issue.

In the wake of Palestinian threats by police against the locally-based LGBTQ organization, Rep. Ilhan Omar has thrown her support behind the group by tweeting five ways to help Palestinian LGBTQ people.

“LGBTQ rights are human rights, and we should condemn any effort to infringe upon them,” Omar stated.

There's an uneasy balance in this case. Another thing to note is Rep. Omar's perhaps unusual marital history. Maybe this is the reason she was taunted.

Perhaps, her supporters are fed up with her headline-grabbing glory instead of representing the people who elected her to office. Much like Eric Swalwell in a hijab, however to her credit and not like the one Swalwell would have, Omar presumably wouldn't have Fang Fang's telephone number concealed in her robe.

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