From Daadab refugee to Congress member, Ilhan Omar’s journey to the U.S Congress

Somali-American politician Ilhan Omar is one of the two Muslim Women to ever be elected to US Congress.

Omar won Minnesota’s strongly Democratic fifth congressional district, replacing the first Muslim congressman, Keith Ellison, who vacated his seat to run in the State’s Attorney General race. Omar is among other women of color who won big on Tuesday night; including Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib, also a Muslim, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest woman elected to Congress and Ayanna Pressley who became the first black congresswoman in Massachusetts.

President Donald Trump’s “politics of fear” motivated her to run for the seat. Giving her acceptance speech, she thanked the people of Minnesota for welcoming her.

“I stand here before you tonight as your congresswoman-elect with many firsts behind my name,” she said amid cheers.“The first woman of color to represent our state in Congress, the first woman to wear a hijab, the first refugee ever elected to Congress and one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress.”

Omar, 37, fled Somalia’s civil war with her parents at the age of eight and spent four years at the Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya. Her family settled in Minnesota in 1997, where there is a sizable Somali population. Transitioning to life in America, the young Somali girl learned English by watching TV. This mother of three has forged a progressive political identity. She supports free college education, housing for all, and criminal justice reform.

In May 2018, Omar made a short cameo in Maroon 5’s Girls like you music video.

Her political journey has been marked with a number of pivotal steps:

1. She said her political life began attending local Democratic Farmer Labor party caucuses with her grandfather after arriving in the US.

2. She won a seat in the state’s legislature in 2016, becoming the first Somali-American lawmaker in the country.

3.She worked as a community organizer, a policy wonk for city leaders in Minneapolis, and as a leader in her local chapter of the African-American Civil Rights group (NAACP).