/**/ East Africa celebrates first Somali Congress woman East Africa celebrates first Somali Congress woman

East Africa celebrates first Somali Congress woman

Democratic congressional candidate Ilhan Omar reacts after appearing at her midterm election night party in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Eric Miller
Somali-American Ilhan Omar is celebrating after becoming one of the first Muslim women to get elected to US Congress.
Omar – a former refugee whose family escaped the Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya – won Minnesota’s fifth congressional district, replacing the first Muslim congressman, Keith Ellison, who vacated his seat to run in the state’s attorney general race.

Omar arrived in the US at the age of 14 after fleeing civil war in Somalia. Her campaign ahead of the mid-term elections was pegged on her experiences growing up, and the experiences of those around her. The 37-year-old politician called for universal healthcare and tuition-free colleges.
“I remember I took my grandfather to his first caucus,” Omar said in an interview with Elle Magazine, where she remembered her first brush with democratic politics in America. “I was his translator, both culturally and linguistically. I just fell in love with politics and with what it could do.”

Her election comes despite a study released by the New America Foundation and the American Muslim Institution, which found that around two in five Americans thought Islam was incompatible with American values, and that a similar number believed Muslims were not as patriotic as other citizens.

Somalis and Kenyans have widely congratulated Omar for her achievement.

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