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Ilhan Omar unrepentant after video of her ethno-nationalist 'Somalians first' speech goes viral
Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Ilhan Omar unrepentant after video of her ethno-nationalist 'Somalians first' speech goes viral

A translation of Omar's remarks indicate she made clear her top allegiance is to Somalia.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) broke from her customary criticism of Israel Saturday to instead highlight her other top priority: the national well-being, ethnic homogeneity, and border security of her native Somalia.

Footage of Omar's translated speech — wherein she appears to identify herself as a Somalian first and allegedly claims the "U.S" will do what [Somali Americans] want and nothing else" — has gone viral, prompting criticism both at home and abroad.

The speech

Omar gave a speech at the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis on Saturday as part of a Somali-American event celebrating the Jan. 8 re-election of Said Abdullahi Deni, head of the northeastern Somalian state of Puntland.

An excerpt of Omar's remarks has been captioned with a translation — the faithfulness of which she and others have criticized — indicating the radical Democrat said, "We, as Somalians, we love each other. There are areas of friction ... that led us to kill each other, but in reality, we are an organized society: brothers and sisters, people of the same blood, people who know they are Somalians first, Muslims second."

After failing to factor America into her apparent hierarchy of identities, Omar allegedly went onto suggest that members of her preferred blood-linked identity group know to "protect one another, come to each other's aid and to the aid of other Muslims too."

"Many Somalians have personally called me to encourage me to speak to the U.S. government [to thwart the Jan. 1 2024 Ethiopia-Somaliland memorandum of understanding] and help Somalia," Omar stated behind a podium adorned with the Somalian and Minnesota state flags, which now are stylistically similar.

The memorandum of understanding, signed on Jan. 1 between Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi, granted Ethiopia access to the Red Sea port, partly on the condition that it recognize Somaliland as a sovereign state, reported the BBC.

Court House News reported that White House spokesman John Kirby stated weeks after the agreement, "We're certainly troubled now by what's reportedly included [in the deal.]."

"We support Somalia's sovereignty and their territorial integrity, and it's got to be respected," added Kirby.

Concerning the agreement, Omar told the crowd of Somali-Americans Saturday, "My answer to Somalians was that the U.S. government will only do what Somalians in the U.S. tell them to do! They will do what we want and nothing else. They must follow our orders and that is how we will safeguard the interest of Somalia."

According to the translation, Omar stressed: "We Somalians must have that confidence in ourselves that we call for the shots in the U.S. ... For as long as I am in the U.S. Congress, Somalia will never be in danger, its waters [Indian Ocean] will not be stolen by Ethiopia or others. The U.S. would not dare to support anyone against Somalia."

Omar allegedly says later in her speech, "Somalia is for Somalis only" and that all five territories in what was Somalia will be reconquered — a translation even one of her defenders, an African studies researcher at Obuda University in Kenya, conceded was accurate.

Response and backlash

Omar responded after the video had netted millions of views, claiming the interpretation of her remarks was "not only slanted but completely off, but I wouldn't expect more from these propagandists."

"No nation state can survive if its states start to get involved in land lease negotiations with other countries without the consent of the federal government," Omar wrote on X. "Somalis in Somalia and in the diaspora are united in that effort and I stand in solidarity with them. No amount of harassment and lies will ever change that."

Omar, who has criticized American efforts to secure America's borders and erect a southern wall, subsequently reshared a post claiming, "Somalis have a responsibility to defend their country by any means."

Rhoda J. Elmi, the deputy minister of foreign affairs for the breakaway state of Somaliland, responded to the video, writing, "We were profoundly surprised, even shocked on discovering the remarks made by Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D) of Minnesota in a recent public forum."

"The language she employed was regrettably unbecoming of both the office she holds and the constituents she represents," wrote Elmi. "Her expressions were lacking in common decency and revealed a significant lack of understanding of basic facts. Specifically troubling, were her endeavors to revive the once-violent and dangerous ideology of Greater Somalia or Somali Weyn, which caused so much death, destruction and conflict in the Horn of Africa."

The deputy minister suggested Omar employed "ethno-racist rhetoric" and demonstrated an "ignorance of #US - #Somaliland cooperation in thee fight against error and piracy in the Gulf of Aden & Gulf of Berbera."

The Somaliland Chronicle suggested Omar's rhetoric and her reference to "missing lands that we should be getting back" were reminscent of the "irredentism of the dictatorial regime of Siad Barre, which contributed to the downfall of the Somali Republic."

Guled Bihi, a parliamentarian in the Somali federal government, suggested the controversy surrounding Omar's remarks concerns "the language she used & her unique stamp that identifies who is Somali VS who isn't! This negatively impacts her social status & our unity."

The controversy was not, however, limited to Omar's identitarianism.

Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R) seized upon Omar's apparent willingness to protect Somalia's borders but not America's.

"Terrorist sympathizer Ilhan Omar in her own words: Somalian first. Muslim second. She never mentions America. She flaunts using her position as congresswoman to protect Somalia's border while our border is invaded by MILLIONS of illegals who are a danger to America," wrote Greene.

Other critics suggested Omar's alleged admission of allegiance to a foreign nation and to using her position in government to put that foreign nation first amounted to a violation of the Oath Clause or possibly treason.

When criticizing America's long-standing alliance with Israel in 2019, Omar smeared Jewish Americans, accusing them of the sort of foreign allegiance she apparently boasted of over the weekend.

"I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says that it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country," said Omar.

While the House Omar ousted Omar last year from the House Foreign Affairs Committee on account of her anti-Semitic remarks, she still sits on the House Budget Committee and serves as a member on two House Education and Workforce Committee subcommittees.

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