Somali woman who lived in Kenyan refugee camp elected to US Congress

Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar

Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar Jim Mone and Rebecca Cook AP REUTERS

Omar and Talib are among 100 or more Muslims who ran for office in 2018, an unprecedented surge in political engagement for a community targeted by policies meant to keep them on the sidelines. She spent four years of her childhood in a refugee camp in Kenya.

Tlaib was born in Detroit to Palestinian immigrant parents.

Before that, she had worked as a community organizer, a policy wonk for city leaders in Minneapolis, and as a leader in her local chapter of the NAACP - the African-American civil rights group.

Omar, the first Somali-American Muslim to be elected to the Minnesota legislature or any elected office in the United States, is also part of a historic wave of women looking to clinch higher.

The Palestinian-American Muslim ran under the Democratic Party, having previously served six years in the state legislature.

Tlaib's win comes after the 2016 election of Trump spurred a record number of women to put their names on the ballot.

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For Tlaib, Tuesday's election marks the second time she will have made history in recent years. I will be using my position in Congress so that no country, not one, should be able to get aid from the U.S. when they still promote that kind of injustice.

In August, she emerged as the victor of a Democratic primary for a seat vacated by John Conyers, a longtime liberal lion who stepped down in December amid sexual harassment allegations and failing health.

Omar, whose platform included support for Medicare for All, criminal justice reform and the increase of minimum wage, won the seat over Republican Jennifer Zielinski.

The seat she won is in a predominantly African American congressional district with few Muslim voters.

She won the Democratic primary on August 14, 2018 and contested the election on a party ticket.

Omar campaigned on a similarly progressive platform, which calls for universal healthcare and tuition-free colleges. "It just shows how incredibly wonderful our country can be", she said.

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