The US Midterm election results are out and Ilhan Omar has made history by becoming one of the first Muslim women to be elected to Congress, and has become the first Somali-American to be elected to Congress. She won in Minnesota's Fifth Congressional district - an area previously held by a Republican.
Omar is a 36-year-old who immigrated to the United States when she was a teenager. She edged Republican Jennifer Zielinski to take Ellison’s seat, which he vacated to run for Minnesota attorney general. Omar ran on a platform that included support for Medicare for All, criminal justice reform and the increase of minimum wage.
Omar's motivation stems from fighting Donald Trump's "politics of fear". “It is a district that is very much interested in making sure our progressive values are represented, and they know the only way they’ll continue to be represented is if we have people who are not going to just think about getting themselves to Washington, but think about getting other progressives to Washington,” she said in an interview with MinnPost.
Omar first made history in 2016 when she was elected the first Somali-American in the United States. After moving to the U.S. at the of 12 as a Somali refugee, Omar grew a love for politics that was inspired by her grandfather, who loved the idea of democratic governments. Following her win in 2016, Omar said her political involvement had become more than “about me or the win or the loss. It became about the changing the narrative” surrounding immigrants and women of color who run for office.
“Regardless of whether we win or lose, this gets to shift the narrative of what is possible,” she said.
She says she is devoted to fighting Trump's immigration politics. There was an attempt to smear her valiant efforts. Omar faced Islamophobic attacks during her campaign from outside conservative media outlets, who have baselessly claimed she was once married to her brother and has ties to terrorists.
Omar is also joined by Rashida Tlaib in becoming the first women to be elected to Congress. Tlaib is also a democrat. She is the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, and she ran unopposed in Michigan’s 13th Congressional District to become one of the first Muslim women in Congress as well.
Header image credit: City Pages