Ilhan Omar becomes one of the first Muslim women elected to congress
Ilhan Omar, a 36 years old Somali refuge who immigrated to the United States as a teenager has won the Congressional seat. She has defeated Republican Jennifer Zielinski to clinch Ellison’s seat, which he had earlier vacated to run for Minnesota Attorney General. Ilhan Omar becomes the first Muslim woman elected to Congress. She has taken 71% of the votes against her opponent’s 19%.
Omar said President Trump’s “politics of fear” motivated her to get into the race.
“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 is one of two candidates likely to become the first Muslim women elected to Congress this fall: The other is Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib. Tlaib is expected to replace disgraced Rep. John Conyers, who resigned after sexual misconduct allegations, in another safe Democratic district. Congress currently has only two lawmakers who identify as Muslim — and both of them, including Ellison, are men.
Omar, the first Somali-American Muslim to be elected to the Minnesota legislature or any elected office in the United States, is also part of a historic wave of women looking to clinch higher office this year. Women and people of color are still underrepresented in Congress (20 percent women and 19 percent people of color), but 146 women have won Democratic primaries in 2018.
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. Laura Loomer — a far-right provocateur and “guerilla journalist” with a history of anti-Muslim rants who says she is investigating Muslim candidates — also crashed a joint campaign event with Tlaib and Omar, yelling questions about Hamas and female genital mutilation.
Those attacks didn’t have any sway in the general election, though.