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Former refugee in Kenya Ilhan Omar elected to US Congress

09 November 2018

Democrats Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of MI will be the first Muslim women to serve in Congress after winning in Tuesdays midterm elections.

Rashida Tlaib, a 42-year-old Michigan Democrat, became the first Muslim woman elected to Congress on Tuesday. She will succeed the first Muslim congressman, Keith Ellison, who vacated the seat to run for Minnesota's Attorney General.

Omar said President Trump's "politics of fear" motivated her to get in the race.

This is the first time that Muslim women have been elected to the House.

Omar, in addition to being one of the first Muslim women in Congress, will also be the first Somali-American member.

Omar was declared the victor in Minnesota's left-learning Fifth Congressional District - which includes Minneapolis and its suburbs, and has elected Democrats since 1960.

"I stand here before you tonight as your congresswoman-elect with many firsts behind my name", she said amid cheers.

"My strength comes from being a Palestinian", she declared after her victory, wrapped in a Palestinian flag rather than the Stars and Stripes.

Ilhan Omar delivers her victory speech to supporters in a packed ballroom Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Minneapolis.

During her campaign and time in the Minnesota Legislature, Omar supported curbing student debt, improving student housing, dismantling ICE and opening up immigration policy.

Her election comes during a presidential administration seen as fanning anger against Muslims and enacting anti-Muslim policies. Her views align with the Bernie Sanders wing of the Democratic Party.

Her expected takeover of the top post of the House's Africa panel will probably not result, however, in major shifts in United States policy.

Congresswoman Omar spent four years in a refugee camp in Kenya.

On January 1, 2009, Rashida became the first Muslim American woman to serve in the Michigan Legislature, and the second Muslim woman in history to be elected to any U.S. state legislature.

Former refugee in Kenya Ilhan Omar elected to US Congress