The theory that Minnesota Democrat Rep. Ilhan Omar married her brother has become a very contentious issue. It’s become even more contentious now that a tweet showing her wishing a happy Father’s Day to a man with the same name as her husband — especially since she deleted it.
The controversy, long considered a conspiracy theory limited to the conservative blogosphere, has now gone pretty mainstream. It’s going to get even more attention now that the uncovered tweet is trending.
Posted six years ago, the tweet was deleted early Tuesday morning, according to The Daily Caller.
It read: “Happy Father’s Day to my aabo Nur Said, I am forever grateful to Allah for giving me the best father a…” along with a link to an Instagram post.
Tweet is from 2013, original screengrab cut off the date pic.twitter.com/YuBv0oYbMe
— Jon Levine (@LevineJonathan) September 17, 2019
According to public information, Omar’s father is a Somali immigrant living in the United States named Nur Omar Mohamed. She has an ex-husband named Ahmed Nur Said Elmi.
Controversial Islamic reformist Mohamad Tawhidi drove home the import of what the scrubbed social media post implied.
This means her real name is Ilhan Nur Said
Some examples for Non-Muslims/Those not from Middle East & North Africa:
1. ‘Mohammad Salman’ means: Mohammad the son of Salman.
2. ‘Mohammad Zayed’ means Mohammad the son of Zayed.
• Ilhan’s dad is Nur Said. She’s: ‘Ilhan Nur Said’
— Imam Mohamad Tawhidi (@Imamofpeace) September 17, 2019
Omar’s people, meanwhile, defended the deletion in a statement Tuesday, according to New York Post writer Jon Levine.
“Rep. Omar and her family are subject to constant threats,” the statement from a spokesperson for Omar read.
“When people write vile things on posts about people she loves — including posting disturbing doctored images of her father — she takes them down.
“Nur Said means ‘Happy Light’ and it’s been her dad’s nickname since he was a kid. He has a public page with the same name.
“She isn’t deleting it for the disturbing and hateful reasons that are being implied by conspiracy theorists and legitimate media outlets shouldn’t be spreading conspiracy theories.”
A spokesperson for Rep. Ilhan Omar sends me the following statement on her deleted tweet from 2013 pic.twitter.com/JGshLtjdn0
— Jon Levine (@LevineJonathan) September 17, 2019
This is all well and good, and one doesn’t want to spread conspiracy theories about Rep. Omar.
That said, it’s more than curious that if “Nur Said” simply means “happy light,” that Omar’s second husband was named the same thing. Andrew Kerr of The Daily Caller pointed this out:
This is an odd response. “Nur Said” a nickname? Odd, given that “Nur Said” is part of her ex-husband’s legal name… pic.twitter.com/uOJS88G4ZZ
— Andrew Kerr (@AndrewKerrNC) September 17, 2019
By the by, this isn’t just those rascally conspiracy theorists on right-wing blogs who are pointing this out.
In June, the Minnesota Star-Tribune reported on the “lingering questions about the marital history of Rep. Ilhan Omar and whether she once married a man — possibly her own brother — to skirt immigration laws.”
The story noted how documents from a state agency displayed “the Omar campaign’s efforts to keep the story of her marriage to Elmi out of the press, arguing that detailed coverage would legitimize the accusations and invade her privacy.”
So, for those of you who don’t get the whole story, here you go: In 2002, Omar was first married to a man named Ahmed Hirsi in a religious — but not legal — ceremony. In 2008, she divorced Hirsi and married Ahmed Nur Said Elmi.
“Little is known about Elmi, other than that Omar has referred to him as a ‘British citizen’ and that he attended high school in the Minneapolis area and, like Omar, later attended North Dakota State University,” PolitiFact reported in July.
The two obtained a religious divorce in 2011 but remained legally married until 2017. This is problematic, since Omar filed taxes with Hirsi as a married couple filing jointly during this time.
“In 2016, as Omar was seeking a state House seat, the conservative website AlphaNewsMN, followed by other ideological sites, posted a screenshot of an Instagram post — since deleted — that was allegedly uploaded by Elmi on June 12, 2012, shortly after Omar gave birth to her third child,” PolitiFact reported.
“The caption of the photograph identified Elmi as holding the baby girl, calling her ‘nieces.’ To some, this suggested a sibling relationship.”
By the way, PolitiFact — a fact-checking website never described as a bustling hive of conservatism — didn’t necessarily think these allegations were false, just that they were unproven and that Omar would prefer they stay that way by not releasing any pertinent information that would clear her in this matter.
“What’s really made it hard is that she’s been unwilling to address any of these questions. That has fueled the controversy,” PolitiFact reported.
“We quoted her at length to say that these were mere accusations, that they were unfair, and that she shouldn’t have to address them. Be that as may, there was an undisputed instance of her filing her taxes improperly. And if you’re in Congress, you should explain that to your constituents.
“It’s true that for many immigrants like Omar, there are not a lot of available public records from their home country. That works both for and against her. It can leave family relationships murky. But in fairness to her, these allegations can be hard for her to disprove.”
Hard, but not impossible, and her excuses don’t necessarily seem to hold water. Furthermore, no major mainstream media outlet seems to want to investigate this by going to Somalia and seeing if they can sort out the truth.
“I wish we could send a reporter to Mogadishu (Somalia) but we don’t have the bandwidth,” PolitiFact’s Louis Jacobson wrote.
News outlets that do have that bandwidth — The New York Times, The Washington Post, etc. — don’t seem to be terribly interested.
Well, fine. But until definitive evidence emerges one way or another, these allegations are going to dog Omar the same way her tax returns did.
They’re not going away, and it’s not just the conspiracy theorists on the fringe who are reporting them now.
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