Editor’s note: Why Sahan Journal decided to report on Ilhan Omar’s divorce filings

Writing about Rep. Ilhan Omar’s divorce filing puts facts to an issue where misinformation has ruled, Sahan Journal editor Mukhtar Ibrahim writes. The scrutiny is also part of life as an elected official. They sacrifice some of their privacy for the privilege of representing us.
Ilhan Omar, her husband Ahmed Hirsi, and her youngest daughter come together at a campaign watch party. They hugged in celebration, Tuesday, August 9, 2016 at Kalsan Restaurant in Minneapolis. Chris Juhn for MPR News

ST. PAUL — When I came to work Monday morning, I heard that Rep. Ilhan Omar had filed for divorce from her longtime husband, Ahmed Hirsi. A quick search of the Hennepin County District Court website confirmed Ilhan filed for a divorce on Friday.


We wrote about it. After we published, several people asked me what made Ilhan’s divorce newsworthy.


The simple answer is that writing about the divorce filing puts facts to an issue where misinformation has ruled. 


Her personal life — and whether or not she was really married to her husband — has been fodder for constant speculation and misinformation from conservative media and even President Trump.


The divorce filing, which is public, puts rumors to rest. We needed to document that.


Ilhan is also an elected official, and the lives of public officials are subject to more scrutiny than regular citizens. They give up part of their privacy for the privilege of representing us.


Ilhan decided to file for divorce in a public court. As news publication, we are obliged to document that.

Mukhtar M. Ibrahim is the founder, editor and executive director of Sahan Journal, a nonprofit news organization dedicated to chronicling the struggles, successes and transformations of Minnesota’s immigrant and refugee communities.


He previously worked as a staff writer for the Star Tribune and Minnesota Public Radio News. He has also written for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Al Jazeera English, BuzzFeed News and the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.


Mukhtar is among the first of his generation’s professional, accomplished journalists of Somali background in Minnesota and in the country. His leadership has been recognized with many awards and accomplishments and is sought-after speaker and panelist at leading institutions, organizations and conferences around the United States.

Support Sahan Journal

There are endless untold stories about Minnesota’s immigrants and refugees. The mission of Sahan Journal is to chronicle the struggles, successes and transformation of Minnesota’s new Americans, whose stories are often overlooked.


Donate now to support this independent, nonprofit newsroom and help shine a light on these important stories in our communities. Your gift will be matched dollar for dollar.