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Holding Quran, first female-Somali-Muslim sworn into Minnesota House of Representatives
Thursday January 5, 2017 10:16 PM, IINA

Ilhan Omar

On Tuesday, Ilhan Omar made history in the United States when she was sworn into the Minnesota House of Representatives. She became the first female Muslim and Somali-American legislator, Mic Network reported.

Omar held the Qur'an during her swearing-in ceremony, becoming the second person to do so after Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim US congressman and a contender for Democratic National Committee chairmanship.

According to the network, the 115th Congress is the most diverse yet. Despite this, Congress is still about 80% male, around 80% white and about 8% are non-Christian.

What makes Omar's political milestone monumental isn't just her identities as a Muslim woman and a Somali. She is also a refugee and immigrant, who fled the Somali Civil War with her family and lived in a refugee camp in Kenya for about four years.

"The war started when I was 8," Omar said. "One-night militia tried to break into our home, and the exterior was riddled with bullets. My family left our neighborhood, passing through dead bodies and debris."

"I no longer had a bed of my own, the privacy of a shower in my own bathroom — we were essentially homeless," Omar added.

"I would fetch water, and my family would reward me with a shilling at the end of the day, so I would go see a movie in the village next door in a makeshift theater: a hut."

Omar's place in American history sends a strong and inspiring message against xenophobic bigotry. The Minnesotan representative is fully aware of this too.

"My election win offers a counter-narrative to the bigotry in the world," she said. "This is a land of immigrants, and most come here for opportunity, a second chance. It's our time to fight for the America we know we can have."

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