Ilhan Omar Makes History in the 2016 Election

Posted on Nov 21, 2016
Melanie Elturk


Despite this election's disappointments, there was a silver lining in Minneapolis on election night as Ilhan Omar became the first Somali-American Muslim woman to become a lawmaker in the United States. She overcame tremendous obstacles to beat out a 44-year incumbent in the primary election, and will now serve in the Minnesota state legislature.

Originally a refugee from Somalia, Omar lived in a refugee camp in Kenya for several years before emigrating to the United States at age 12. The inequality she witnessed upon coming to the U.S. inspired her to get involved in politics and advocacy. Now the 34-year-old mother of three fully embraces the value of being boldly visible as a Muslim woman and immigrant, and refuses to be held back by differences.

“Oftentimes, you are told to be everything but bold, but I think that was important for me in running as a young person and running as someone who is Muslim, a refugee, an immigrant,” she said. “To believe in the possibility that all of my identities and otherness would fade into the background, and that my voice as a strong progressive would emerge if I was bold and believed in that — that made a huge difference for me and my candidacy."

Omar's platform includes expanding support for clean energy sources, finding ways to make college more affordable, reforming the criminal justice system, and addressing economic inequality. She says her first move as legislator will be to introduce a bill that automatically registers voters when they turn 18 or get a driver's license. We hope her election continues to inspire Muslim women to get involved and make a difference in our communities!

To learn more about Ilhan Omar, visit: www.ilhanomar.com