The first Somali-American lawmaker in the U.S., Ilhan Omar said that she was subjected to ‘hateful’ anti-Muslims threats from a taxi driver in Washington DC. The incident occurred just after she attended a policy training at the White House.
The 34-year-old made national headlines and history last month by defeating a Republican to win a seat in Minnesota’s House of Representatives.
Ms. Omar came to the U.S. from a refugee camp in Kenya as a child. She is a Muslim woman who proudly wears a hijab, and has worked her way up to become the highest ranking Somali official in the United States.
The Representative-elect from Minnesota said that she was threatened by the taxi driver to remove her hijab during the encounter on Tuesday. She shared the incident in a post on her social media account. The post reads:-
On my way to our hotel, I got in a cab and became subjected to the most hateful, derogatory, Islamophobic, sexist taunts and threats I have ever experienced. The cabdriver called me ISIS and threatened to remove my hijab, I wasn’t really sure how this encounter would end as I attempted to rush out of his cab and retrieve my belongings. I am still shaken by this incident and can’t wrap my head around how bold being (sic) are becoming in displaying their hate toward Muslims. I pray for his humanity and for all those who harbor hate in their hearts.
The Metropolitan Police Department in Washington DC didn’t receive any formal complaint about the incident. Officer Hugh Carew said that no report could be found by Ilhan Omar’s name.
Ms. Omar stated that she would report the confrontation when she returns to her hometown Minneapolis, noting the fact that the taxi driver knew where she was staying. She made this statement in response to an inquiry made on her Facebook page.
A spokesperson to Ms. Omar said that no more details of the incident were provided because the Somali-American would like to focus on attending the training, meetings, and conferences she has scheduled over the next few days during her time in Washington.
Ms. Omar had escaped from Somalia with her family during the civil war when she was eight years old. Before moving and settling in a Somali-American neighborhood in Minnesota, they lived in a Kenyan refugee camp for four years.
Her election result came days after President-elect Donald Trump accused Somali immigrants in Minnesota for “spreading their extremist views.”
Minnesota is house to nation’s largest Somali community (around 50,000), according to the U.S. Census.
While celebrating her victory, Ms. Omar had said that she would be the “voice of the marginalized” in the state parliament. She also heads the policy department of “Women Organizing Women Network,” an organization that encourages East African women to participate in civic leadership.