Ilhan Omar Booed at Somalian Cultural Event in Minneapolis

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) received a far less than cordial reception at a Minneapolis, Minnesota concert Saturday, July 2nd. The congresswoman received loud boos from the crowd who had gathered to hear Somali singer Suldaan Seeraar as part of Somali Week celebrations.


Exactly why the crowd was so hostile is a matter of conjecture. A dive into Somali societal topics reveals some possibilities.

Somalia is, to put it charitably, a self-murdering mess. As the CIA’s website notes:

Somalia scores very low for most humanitarian indicators, suffering from poor governance, protracted internal conflict, underdevelopment, economic decline, poverty, social and gender inequality, and environmental degradation.

It continues:

A lack of educational and job opportunities is a major source of tension for Somalia’s large youth cohort, making them vulnerable to recruitment by extremist and pirate groups. Somalia has one of the world’s lowest primary school enrollment rates – just over 40% of children are in school – and one of world’s highest youth unemployment rates. Life expectancy is low as a result of high infant and maternal mortality rates, the spread of preventable diseases, poor sanitation, chronic malnutrition, and inadequate health services.

Unsurprisingly, it’s a trendy place … to be from.

Today Somalia is the world’s third highest source country for refugees, after Syria and Afghanistan. Insecurity, drought, floods, food shortages, and a lack of economic opportunities are the driving factors.


The Somalia-to-Minnesota pipeline on its surface seems like an odd move for climate reasons if nothing else. But, apparently Minnesotans are an accepting bunch, as CBS News reported in 2019.

The first is the support from local, volunteer resettlement agencies that work with governments to help refugees find housing, schooling and jobs. Minnesota’s agencies, including Lutheran Social Services, Arrive Ministries, International Institute of Minnesota and Minnesota Council of Churches, have a long history of successful refugee resettlements.

Dr. Samatar also cited Minnesota’s strong economy, which gave Somali-Americans job opportunities (many in western Minnesota), schooling options, health care and a safe place to live.

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

The relocation is not without its downside, as FOX News reported in 2019.

Some investigators lament the difficulties in rooting out gang violence that remains a problem in not just the Somali community, but neighboring areas. The proper dismantling of the gangs, police stress, is a two-way street. Gang activity now is no longer centered on larger outfits like MS-13, or the Crips. Much more common here are smaller gangs with names like “Somali Mafia,” “Somali Outlaws,” “Young n’ Thuggin (YNT)” and even the “Taliban.”

“It’s hard for any community to assimilate and to immediately transform from the life they knew. But the distrust is only getting worse,” said an area law enforcement official. “The gang violence is only getting worse. Not only do crimes go unsolved, but many don’t get reported at all.”


There was also the 2017 murder of unarmed citizen Justine Ruszczyk (she was going by her fiancé’s last name Damond at the time of her death) by Minneapolis police officer and native Somalian Mohamed Noor further exacerbating ill-will between communities.

Somalia’s state religion is Sunni Muslim, the largest group within Islam. Adherents to Sunni Islam are a quite orthodox bunch, this leading to a noticeable lack of Pride parades in the Middle East.

Some modern academics have argued that the blame for the Islamic hostility towards homosexuality is due to “the adoption of European Victorian attitudes by the new Westernized elite.” For more than a thousand years, however, the Islamic tradition has drawn its views on homosexuality from the accounts of Muhammad’s perspective found in the hadith, for Muhammad is described in the Quran (the word of Allah) as ‘the perfect example’ (uswa hasana) for all of humankind. Muhammad instructed, “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 mere “appearance” of homosexuality, when he cursed effeminate men and masculine women and ordered his followers to “Turn them out of your houses.”

Now, let’s compare this to Rep. Omar’s thoughts on the subject.

Following Palestinian police threats against a local LGBTQ group, Rep. Ilhan Omar threw her support behind the group by sharing their tweet with five ways to support Palestinian queers.

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


There seems to be a dichotomy here. Also worth noting is Rep. Omar’s, shall we say, unique marital history. Perhaps this is why she was booed.

Or perhaps her constituents are tired of her gloryhound headline placement chasing in lieu of actually representing the people who voted her into office. Rather like an Eric Swalwell in a hijab, although to Omar’s credit, unlike the model Swalwell would wear, Omar presumably wouldn’t have Fang Fang’s phone number hidden inside hers.


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