AmidsElection Chaos, MN Elects First Somali-American Woman Lawmaker

Ilhan Omar, a Democrat and former refugee, just made history winning the state House race in Minnesota.

Ilhan Omar, a 34-year-old Muslim activist, came to the United States as a preteen, after escaping the Somali civil war with her family. She came to the United States spending four years in a Kenyan refugee camp, knowing little English.

The economic inequality and religious intolerance in the United States motivated her to become involved in politics as a teenager.

“For me, this is my country, this is for my future, for my children’s future and for my grandchildren’s future to make our democracy more vibrant, more inclusive, more accessible and transparent which is going to be useful for all of us,” she said.

Her win is symbolic in Minnesota, home to the nation's largest Somali immigrant population.

"My neighbors, and everyone here in this room, represent what we as a nation want to be: united in our diversity," said Omar.

Omar, a Democrat, not only made history with her victory but her success is also a progressive step towards electing minorities and women in public offices.

Trump tried to earn Minnesotans' favor recently by playing to their presumed fears of Somali immigrants.

At a campaign event, Trump warned of "very large numbers" of Somalis slipping into the state "without your knowledge."

Trump has been raving about Muslims and refugees, calling for a ban on Muslims. But his Islamophobia did not have an effect on Omar, who had a clear victory.

Omar said in her remarks, “We will continue to build a more prosperous and equitable district — state and nation — where each and every one of us has opportunities to thrive and move forward together."

She understands the value of her historic win.

“Oftentimes, you are told to be everything but bold, but I think that was important for me in running as a young person and running as someone who is Muslim, a refugee, an immigrant,” she said.

“To believe in the possibility that all of my identities and otherness would fade into the background, and that my voice as a strong progressive would emerge if I was bold and believed in that — that made a huge difference for me and my candidacy,” she added.

People have started congratulating the first Somali American Muslim woman in the elected office.









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