Voters in the US state of Minnesota have elected the first ever Somali-American Muslim female legislator.
On a night when American voters failed to elect the first female president, Minnesota created history by electing a former refugee who proudly wears the hijab.
Ilhan Omar ran for an uncontested seat in the Minnesota House but faced strong opposition in the primaries where she beat the House’s longest serving member.
Her victory is of note because the just-concluded campaign season divided America due to the anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric perpetrated by the now President-elect.
Omar told reporters:
”Even though his message is supposed to function as a fear element in making sure that we don’t vote, so we don’t see ourselves as part of the American system, it’s had the opposite effect.”
The 34-year-old Somali-American moved to the United States at the age of 12, after spending four years in a refugee camp in Kenya.
She has now gone on to create history as she aims to achieve even more.
Omar also said:
“It’s the beginning of something new.
“This district has a legacy of making history. I am excited for our progressive values and to be able to be on the ground at the Capitol representing the diverse people of my district and being a champion with them and for them.”
House Minority Leader Paul Thissen said Omar’s victory is a statement about the state’s future:
”It says something important about the future of Minnesota, and what it means to be a Minnesotan.”
Omar, who currently is the director of policy at Women Organizing Women Network – a group dedicated to pushing East African women into civic leadership – will take office on January 3.
She says among her priorities are increasing funding and access to education, as well as reforming the criminal justice system.