U.S. congressional representative Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., has been challenged by fellow Somali immigrant and U.S. Army veteran Shukri Abdirahman for her seat.
Abdirahman has reportedly entered the congressional race as a Republican in an attempt to unseat Omar, arguing that the Minnesota Democrat ridiculed the country that saved her life. She announced her campaign with a tweet on Feb. 28, including a very dramatic video.
“Ilhan Omar was given a second chance when America took her in — but chose to ridicule the very country that saved her life,” she wrote. “When I was welcomed as a legal American citizen. I responded by joining the U.S. Army. Now I’m taking a stand to give hope to the people of Minneapolis.”
Ilhan Omar was given a second chance when America took her in — but chose to ridicule the very country that saved her life.
When I was welcomed as a legal American citizen. I responded by joining the U.S. Army.
Now I’m taking a stand to give hope to the people of Minneapolis. pic.twitter.com/yVqZPN0lWT
— Shukri Abdirahman (@ShuForCongress) February 28, 2022
Abdirahman, a Black Muslim military veteran and mother of three children, escaped Somalia and fled to Kenya before coming to the U.S. and serving in the armed forces. In her video, she discussed her family’s circumstances when they lived in Somalia, saying that her father was taken by their former president, Mohamed Siad Barre’s men. She said he was taken in the middle of the night and allegedly poisoned after refusing to join Barre’s regime.
Abdirahman added that being abused at a young age and losing her dad forced her family to flee in search of refuge. As such, they lived in the ghetto of Kenya and eventually headed to America where they became legal citizens.
“From Somalia to Minnesota, my family and I were welcomed as legal American citizens. America had saved my life,” she said.
Omar’s story is a bit similar, as she also fled Somalia and lived in a refugee camp in Kenya before migrating to America with her family. In 2000 she became a U.S. citizen and, in 2016, earned a seat in the Minnesota House. In 2018, she was elected to represent Minnesota’s 5th district in Congress and became the first Somali American in the U.S. House. She has also been the first to legislate on the House floor in her traditional Muslim garb, the hijab.
Abdirahman appears not to be feeling her fellow Somalian.
In another tweet, posted on Mar. 9, the East African native insisted that she would be replacing Omar. “Ilhan Omar will NOT be re-elected to Congress this year,” she wrote. “I’m a 10-year U.S. Army Combat Veteran, and I will be replacing her.”
Ilhan Omar will NOT be re-elected to Congress this year.
I’m a 10 year U.S. Army Combat Veteran, and I will be replacing her. pic.twitter.com/FTjDVfFkTc
— Shukri Abdirahman (@ShuForCongress) March 9, 2022
She said was inspired by the 2001 war film, Black Hawk Down, to join the U.S. military because she desired “to give back to the men and women who gave their lives so that I could have a second chance.”
During her 10-year stint in the army, she was deployed to Iraq, where she recalled meeting her husband and having her children with him. However, they separated, and she ended up as a homeless single mother, but she refused to give up hope. Yet, she didn’t quite explain how she got back on her feet. Nonetheless, Abdirahman continued her speech, saying she wanted to run against Omar because she claimed the 39-year-old has “completely neglected, my community, my district.” She added that she and other Minnesota residents were “slowly losing our freedoms.”
The Republican candidate planned to bring order back to her city after Omar defended calls to defund Minneapolis police following the killing of George Floyd, which reportedly caused crime rates to skyrocket. She declared her candidacy for the Republic primary, which was scheduled to take place on Aug. 9, 2022. The general election has been set to take place on Nov. 8, 2022.