Amazing Story Of Somalian Refugee Who Made History In U.S. Elections

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Although the U.S. did not elect its first female president at the just concluded polls, Ilhan Omar made history by becoming America’s first Somali-American Muslim woman legislator.

A former Somalian refugee, a Muslim, married to Ahmed Hirsi, and a mom of three, 34-year-old Omar claimed a strong victory in the Minnesota House race on Tuesday night.

Ilhan Omar, who proudly wears the hijab, speaking to journalists described her victory as one for the 8-year-old in that refugee camp. A victory for the young woman being forced into child marriage. A victory for every person that’s been told they have limits on their dreams.”

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Earlier this year, she was quoted to have said, she believes her representation could change how people see the political process.

In her words: “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.”

“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.”

Ilhan Omar, the youngest of seven children, reportedly moved to the U.S. at the age of 12, after four years living in a Kenyan refugee camp following her escape from the Somali civil war.



She and her family fled from the Somali civil war and spent four years in a refugee camp in Kenya. When she came to the United States in 1995, she spoke only Somali. As her English improved, she began translating for her grandfather at political events in the Twin Cities. Today, the Minneapolis organizer is well-versed in business administration and politics.

Omar believes she brings the voice of young people, the voice of women in the East African community, the voice of Muslims, and the voice of young mothers looking for opportunities.

She won House District 60B in southeast Minneapolis with 80 percent of the vote. It wasn’t a surprise that Omar would win a Minnesota House seat in the reliably Democratic district: In the primary contest earlier, she beat a 22-term incumbent, and her Republican challenger suspended his campaign for family reasons. Allegations were raised during the campaign that she had illegally married her brother to commit immigration fraud; she denied the charge.

As well as her political duties, she is the executive director of policy at Women Organizing Women Network—a group that aims to empower all women, particularly first and second generation immigrants, to become engaged citizens and community leaders.

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While appreciating her supporters after her victory on Tuesday, Omar said their campaign has been about more than just uniting a district, more than winning back the house, more than making history, but has been about shifting narratives, restoring hope and re-establishing access in their democracy.

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She pledged to work on an agenda focused on justice and the common good, zero waste and renewable energy. Omar added that she will never stop fighting for a democracy that works for everyone, and for a prosperous and equitable Minnesota which everyone will be proud of.