Minnesota elects country’s first Somali-American lawmaker

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Voters in Minnesota have elected the country’s first Somali-American lawmaker. 

Ilhan Omar, a Minneapolis Democrat, won a seat in the Minnesota state House on Tuesday. 

{mosads}She was strongly favored in her heavily Democratic district after she defeated a 44-year incumbent in an August primary election. 

Omar will represent a section of Minneapolis with a significant population of East African immigrants, including the country’s largest Somali population.

Omar, 34, was born in Somalia but fled the country with her family when she was 8. She spent four years in a Kenyan refugee camp but moved to Minneapolis in 1997. She is a policy director at Women Organizing Women, a civil advocacy group. 

“It’s the beginning of something new,” Omar told the Minneapolis Star Tribune

“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.”

Minneapolis’s East African population was thrust into the spotlight last week when Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump visited Minnesota and warned of “the problems caused with faulty refugee vetting, with large numbers of Somali refugees coming into your state without your knowledge, without your support or approval, and with some of them joining [the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria] and spreading their extremist views all over the country and all over the world.”

Minnesota Democrats slammed Trump for the remark.

“He spewed his hateful vitriol and insulted a group of Minnesotans that I am proud to represent every day in the United States Senate,” Sen. Al Franken (D) wrote on Facebook.

“Elected officials need to be as good as the diverse people we serve. Donald Trump is not worthy of serving our Somali-American community here in Minnesota, or anyone in our nation.”

Tags Al Franken Donald Trump

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