The First Somali-American Woman Elected To Office Was Harassed In D.C.

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When Ilhan Omar made history by becoming the first Somali-American elected to office in the United States, she told supporters that they represented "what we as a nation want to be: united in our diversity."

This week, the 33-year-old refugee experienced firsthand the work that has to be done for the country as a whole to reach that place, too. While in Washington, D.C., she was harassed and called "ISIS" by a taxi driver, according to a post shared on her Facebook page.

Omar, who was elected to the Minnesota state House of Representatives in November, said the cab driver called her ISIS, lobbed sexist taunts, and threatened to remove her hijab during a brief ride on Tuesday after a White House meeting on criminal justice reform.

"I am still shaken by this incident and can't wrap my head around how bold [people] are becoming in displaying their hate towards Muslims," she said. "I pray for his humanity and for all those who harbor hate in their hearts."
She did not provide information about the driver. Her campaign staff did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press.

Omar escaped Somalia's brutal civil war as a child and spent four years in a Kenyan refugee camp before coming to the United States. She has worked as a political activist in Minnesota, and with a nonprofit aimed at promoting civic engagement among East African women. Refinery29 featured Omar's moving story as part of our Behind The Headlines series earlier this year. You can watch that piece below:
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