MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – The metamorphosis of Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar from refugee to the first American Somali in Congress has been well documented.
Now Omar comes out with a new memory that offers his own turn on his path to prominence, beginning with his childhood in Mogadishu. "This is what America looks like: my journey from refugee to congressman," to be released Tuesday, offers no revelations about some of the controversies that have plagued Omar.
Instead, she outlines difficult years that Omar says made her a fearless fighter, unafraid to skimp on President Donald Trump and his frequent conservative criticism.
A young fighter
In his memoirs, written with Rebecca Paley, Omar recalls facing a much taller boy when she was just seven years old, rubbing his face in the sand after he ran into someone weaker.
"I was not afraid to fight. I felt I was bigger and stronger than everyone else, even if I knew that was not really the case," he wrote. It is a theme woven throughout the book, even after she came to America and settled in Arlington, Virginia, hardly knowing English.
Omar got into fights in high school to prove he was not afraid, he writes, describing the incidents where he drowned a boy until he foamed his mouth and kept hitting another girl even after he was told that I was pregnant.
"Fighting didn't seem like a choice. It was part of me. Respect goes both ways," he wrote.
LIFE IN SOMALIA
Omar said she grew up as the youngest of seven in a rowdy and stubborn middle-class family, who lived in a guarded compound in Mogadishu. Her father's clan was one of the most powerful in the country, and her mother, who died when she was preschool-age, was Benadiri, a Somali ethnic minority.
Omar, who described herself as a tomboy, said the only place she fit in was within the walls of her family's home. Civil war broke out when he was eight years old, and after his family's compound was attacked by the militia, the family escaped and eventually reached a refugee camp in Kenya, where Omar spent four years before the family moved. to the United States.
LOVE AND FIGHT
Omar remembers meeting her first husband, Ahmed Hirsi, in Minneapolis when she was 16 years old. They said they were in love, and shortly before their 19th birthday, their families decided they should get married.
In 2008 Omar was struggling. Finances were a stressor, she had two young children and began to question her relationships, including her marriage. Because the couple had married religiously, not civilly, to divorce, Hirsi simply had to declare that the marriage was over, Omar wrote.
Then she had what she called "a Britney Spears-style collapse,quot; in which she shaved her head and eloped with a man, Ahmed Nur Said Elmi, whom she wrote that "she spent so little time with it that she wouldn't even footnote to my story if it weren't for the fact that this event became the headline later. "
In the book, Omar does not name Elmi or say how they met or when their relationship ended. Later he reunited with Hirsi and had a third child. Her book also doesn't mention her recent divorce from Hirsi and her new marriage to a man who works as a consultant for her.
"SPECULATION AND CONSPIRACY,quot;
Since Omar ran for state legislator in 2016, he has come across accusations that Elmi, the man she married during her separation from Hirsi, is her brother. Omar again denies those claims, saying they originated from a post on an online Somali discussion forum that she said was a last-ditch effort to sink her campaign.
“That Somalis were some of my harshest critics could seem absurd. But they refused to accept me because I refused to kiss the ring. It goes back to my inability from childhood to submit to bullies, "he wrote.
Omar was elected to the state Legislature in 2016, eliminating a 44-year-old incumbent. She describes a government house "hostile to my presence,quot; because of her determination to attack the status quo, and says that she faced an unhappy Democratic lawmaker for winning a leadership position.
The legislator told Omar that she was different, and finally said it was because she enters a room "like a man."
"A white man," said Omar, she replied.
As a congressman, Omar has come under fire for controversial statements and has come under attack and misrepresentation by critics. She said in her book that she defends his policies, and his identity is not in dispute.
"I am by nature a fire starter," he wrote.
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