Woman Who Lived in Kenyan Refugee Camp Wins USA Elections

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Ilhan Omar, a mother of three, was elected to the House for Minnesota.

She said her political life began attending local Democratic Farmer Labor party caucuses with her grandfather after arriving in the US.

In a year when a record number of women are running for Congress and races across the country include more candidates of color and more gay, lesbian and transgender candidates, Tlaib and Omar add to the diversity of newcomers to the electoral process.


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 USA state legislature.

Omar fled Somalia's civil war with her parents at the age of eight and spent four years at a refugee camp in Kenya. She has a bachelor's degree in politics from North Dakota State University and has also studied public affairs. With this victory, she will be the first Somali-American elected to U.S. Congress. Tlaib favors a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and has opposed United States aid to Israel.

Omar will take the seat vacated by Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress. Ellison is leaving Congress as he vies to become Minnesota attorney general.


Technically, Palestinian-American Rashida Harbi Tlaib is the first American Muslim woman to be elected to Congress.

Tlaib won the congressional seat for Michigan's 13th district after former Representative John Conyers abruptly stepped down following sexual harassment allegations, leaving the seat vacant.

Rashida, who is associated with a socialist group within the Democratic Party, is also very popular in this constituency. She was defeated in the general election in November of previous year.


Boston City Councilwoman Ayanna Pressley will represent Massachusetts' 7th Congressional District in the next Congress.

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