“This really was a victory for that 8-year-old in that refugee camp. This was a victory for the young woman being forced into child marriage. This was a victory for every person that’s been told they have limits on their dreams,” passionately stated Ilhan Omar in her November 8th victory speech, after she became the first Somali-American Muslim female legislator (representing Southeast Minneapolis). The 34-year-old mother of three came to the United States after fleeing the Somali civil war as a child and living in a Kenyan refugee camp.
Quartz calls Ms. Omar’s election “symbolic in an election year when being Muslim, Somali, a woman, and a refugee all became an excuse for slander and insult. Just two days before the elections, president-elect Donald Trump went to Minnesota and blamed faulty refugee vetting processes for allowing large numbers of Somalis to come to the state. At a rally in Maine back in August, Trump also singled out the immigrant Somali community in the US, saying they were coming from ‘dangerous territories,’ and fraying social safety nets.”
But there are many examples of successful Somali and Somali Americans to negate this view. Not just Ms. Omar’s win, but there’s also actor Barkhad Abdi, the first Somali to be nominated for an Oscar for “Captain Philips”; Kadra Mohamed, the first Somali-American female police officer; fashion designer twin sisters Ayaan and Idyl Mohallim; filmmaker Idil Ibrahim; award-winning environmental activist Fatima Jibrell and restaurateur Abdirahman Kahin
As Ms. Omar tweeted after her history making win: “Strong African and Muslim women—that’s the new 2016. And this state is going to continue electing progressive women.”