As Muslim women fear wearing hijabs, this woman was just elected

This week’s election wasn't a total loss for women – America’s first Somali-American Muslim woman legislator was elected.

Former refugee Ilhan Omar said "it's the beginning of something new" when she accepted the position in Minnesota Nov. 8, proudly wearing a hijab, the Star Tribune reports.

Omar describes herself as a feminist, part-time social justice crusader and full-time political junkie. She stands for paid parental leave, ordinances that respect Muslims, securing urban educator funding and banning environmentally-harmful containers and pesticides.

For women and minorities, she stands for so much more.

Haji Yusuf, a director of a local group promoting cultural understanding, said the Minneapolis mom and politician is a local role model.

"We hear so much about Muslim women being treated differently," Yusuf said when Omar won the primary. "But look at Ilhan and her dream, and where she came from — from a refugee camp to the state of Minnesota. ... Coming to be where she is today just represents so much for Muslim young women and men as well."

Now, she's quickly becoming a strong voice for Muslim women well beyond her state.

As some Muslims expressed fear following the results of the presidential election, Omar shared a similar sentiment but also a desire for unity in a message on Facebook.

"I am also sick with worry as a result of the overall outcome of this election and the deep divide within our nation," Omar wrote. "But I need you. And we need each other. We must find ways to move forward together."

Kirsti Marohn of the St. Cloud Times contributed to this report.

Follow Ashley May on Twitter: @ashleymaytweets


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