Somali immigrant makes history by winning seat on Lewiston City Council

Democrat Safiya Khalid, 23, has become the first Somali immigrant and youngest person to be elected to the Lewiston City Council in Maine.

Voters in Maine’s second largest city elected Khalid by a wide margin during the municipal election Tuesday night, according to The Bangor Daily News, with Khalid winning almost 70 percent of the vote over her opponent, fellow Democrat Walter Hill.

While speaking to supporters shortly after polls closed, Khalid, whose campaign has been targeted by racism and threats in recent months, said that her win shows that “community organizers beat internet trolls,” The Sun Journal reports.

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According to the local publication, in the weeks leading up to the election, social media users began to attack Khalid’s campaign on Facebook with racist comments.

“She is a Muslim whose aim is to take over the country a piece at a time — anybody who thinks there is any good in any of them is really ignorant,” one of the comments reportedly read.

Another commenter wrote that Khalid “probably endorses sharia law, and lies like a rug. Does anyone want to make a bet that somewhere in her past she’s been radicalized?”

“Some comments are too graphic and inappropriate to be published,” the publication noted.

She told The Washington Post that it got so bad she eventually deleted her Facebook account, saying: “I just couldn’t take it.”

“I was crying so bad. My eyes were completely red,” she told the Post.

Some social media users also circulated an old picture of a 15-year-old Khalid flashing her middle finger, according to The Associated Press.

The local race also drew headlines after Hill became targeted by other members of the local Democratic Party for running against Khalid. 

According to The Bangor Daily News, in an audio recording that spread online shortly before the election, a local Democratic leader could be heard calling Hill “pathetic."