Africa hails first Somali-American congresswoman

By Hassan Isilow

JOHANNESBURG (AA) – African political leaders and activists alike on Wednesday heartily congratulated Ilhan Omar on becoming the first Somali-American elected to the U.S. Congress.

“Extending my warm congratulation to you IIhan. Your victory is our global community’s victory,” Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire wrote on his official Twitter account on Wednesday.

He called Omar’s victory an inspiration to all Somali youth, wherever they are, as “your success is their success.”

Ambassador Mohamed Abdi Affey, a UN refugee agency special envoy for the Horn of Africa, said the election of Omar — a former refugee — serves as an inspiration to millions of refugees across the globe.

Affey, a former Kenyan deputy foreign minister, said Omar’s election will give hope to refugees.

Omar, 36, spent many years at the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya before relocating to the United States, where she joined the Democratic Party.

In 2016, she was elected a Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party member of the Minnesota House of Representatives, making her the first Somali-American legislator elected to office in the United States.

On Tuesday, she defeated Republican Jennifer Zielinski in the race to represent the state’s Fifth District in Congress.

“America has not had a Muslim woman in Congress. This is victory for Muslims, Africa, and the Middle East,” Somali activist Mohammed Aden told Anadolu Agency on telephone from the capital Mogadishu.

Omar and Rashida Tlaib from the state of Michigan made history on Tuesday by winning seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, making them the first Muslim women to be elected to the U.S. 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.

The Palestinian-American Muslim, who served for six years in the state legislature, ran as a Democrat.

The Turkish Embassy in Somalia also wrote a congratulatory message on its Twitter account hailing Omar’s election to Congress.

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