Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) announced Monday night that her father died of complications from the coronavirus.
In a statement, Omar said, “It is with tremendous sadness and pain that I share that my father, Nur Omar Mohamed, passed away due to complications from COVID-19. No words can describe what he meant to me and all who knew him,” Politico reports.
Omar’s mother died when she was an infant and Omar was raised by her father and grandfather. Her father emigrated to the United States with her and her siblings in 1995 during the Somalian civil war and eventually made their home in Minnesota.
Along with Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Omar was one of the first two Muslim women to be elected to Congress in 2018, and she was also the first to wear a hijab on the House floor.
Omar has spoken fondly of her father and his impact on her life on numerous occasions. The day before she was sworn into Congress in early 2019, she shared a photo of the two of them walking through Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport with the following caption: “23 years ago, from a refugee camp in Kenya, my father and I arrived at an airport in Washington DC. Today, we return to that same airport on the eve of my swearing-in as the first Somali-American in Congress.”
In an interview with CNN the next day, Omar said the walk through the airport “was a very emotional moment.”
“As we exited our planes, we realized that him and I had not returned (to) that same airport since the day we first landed here as refugees,” she said. “It’s a very — really overwhelming and emotional time for us. I don’t think — as my dad said, he had high hopes for us about the opportunities we would have when we came to this country. But I don’t think he imagined that some day his baby would be going to Congress just 20 years after we arrived here.”
Mohamed told CNN “it was amazing” to see his daughter elected to Congress.
Omar’s father is at least the third Congressional family member to die from the disease caused by the coronavirus. Last month, Rep. Maxine Waters’ (D-Calif.) sister Velma Moody passed as did Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) brother in April.
The total number of confirmed deaths in the U.S. due to COVID-19 has now surpassed 116,000.