A new report adds weight to allegations that Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota married her own brother.
“No one knew there had been a wedding until the media turned up the marriage certificate years later,” Osman, 40, who keeps tabs on the Somali community around Minneapolis through a Facebook blog, said. Omar has called criticism of her marriage “Islamophobia.”
Omar married Ahmed Hirsi in 2002 in a Muslim ceremony which was not registered by the state as a legal marriage. Marriage documents show Elmi and Omar married in 2009.
Osman said that not long after Omar married Hirsi, the man he was told was Omar’s brother entered the picture.
“People began noticing that Ilhan and Southside were often with a very effeminate young guy,” Osman said. “Southside” was a nickname Osman used for Hirsi. “He was very feminine in the way he dressed — he would wear light lipstick and pink clothes and very, very, short shorts in the summer. People started whispering about him.”
He said there was no secrecy then about the young man’s identity.
“[Hirsi] and Ilhan both told me it was Ilhan’s brother and he had been living in London but he was mixing with what were seen as bad influences that the family did not like,” Osman said.
“So they sent him to Minneapolis as ‘rehab.'”
Osman said the wedding to Elmi was deliberately kept quiet, unlike her first marriage.
“When [Hirsi] and Ilhan got married, a lot of people were invited. It was a big Islamic wedding uniting two large clans in the Minneapolis community. I would say there were 100-150 people there,” he said.
But, “When she married Elmi, no one even knew about it,” he said, adding that he suspected someone outside the Somali community was needed for the marriage because community members would know they were siblings.
Omar was clear on one thing: She wanted to keep her brother in the U.S.
“She said she needed to get papers for her brother to go to school. We all thought she was just getting papers together to allow him to stay in this country,” Osman said.
“Once she had the papers they could apply for student loans.”
“They both moved to North Dakota to go to school but she was still married to [Hirsi]. In the Somali way, the only marriage that mattered was the one in the mosque,” he said. “Ilhan came back to Minneapolis all the time to see her family, but her brother didn’t come with her.”
Omar and Elmi divorced in 2017. Omar married Hirsi in a civil ceremony in 2018.
“They never parted,” Osman said of Omar and Hirsi.
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