CAIR-AZ – First Somali-American lawmaker Ilhan Omar: Muslims ‘no longer alone.’

CAIR-AZ – First Somali-American lawmaker Ilhan Omar: Muslims ‘no longer alone.’

Image via Arizona Republic

Arizona Republic covers CAIR-AZ’s “A Ramadan Night for Civil Rights” – and our keynote speaker, Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN.)

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The Minneapolis bus was crowded, but Ilhan Omar felt alone. 

It was just after Sept. 11, and the “visibly Muslim” Somali refugee had noticed neighbors, colleagues and teachers growing increasingly suspicious of people who looked like she did. 

“I remember … feeling everyone on the bus was staring at me,” said Omar, who made history this year as the country’s first Muslim refugee to hold elected office. “I remember thinking, ‘I don’t know who’s a friend. I don’t know who would help me. I don’t know who would stand up for me if I was attacked today.’ “

A similar uneasiness took hold after Donald Trump’s election, Omar told the 300 people gathered to hear her speak in Phoenix on Monday. At the civil-rights dinner hosted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Arizona chapter, the Minnesota legislator described the president as “a leader who preys on people’s fear” and “spreads the disease of hate.”

Unlike in the aftermath of 9/11, however, Omar hasn’t felt abandoned. Instead, she has seen “people who were once silent” rise in defense of Muslims over and over again.

She pointed to the “three men, complete strangers, who stood up to a white supremacist to protect Muslim girls on a public train” in Portland in May. Two of the men died.

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