Islamic Minnesota Representative -My Faith Truly Means Peace

First Somali-American Legislator Begins Work in Minnesota

With two simple words – “I do” – Ilhan Omar began her term as a lawmaker in the Minnesota House of Representatives, accomplishing what few people thought possible during an election year where Muslim-Americans were at the center of heated political debate about immigration and terrorism.

“The Muslim community needs a win,” says Asad Zaman, executive director of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota. “This entire election cycle has been dominated by negativity towards immigrants and Muslims.”

Zaman was one of dozens of supporters who filled the Minnesota State Capitol on the opening day of the new legislative session, shuttling between events marking Ilhan Omar’s historic first day on the job as state lawmaker, which included a ceremonial oath of office – complete with a commemorative Quran – on the House floor.

“I think it says a lot about the ethos of America,” Zaman told VOA, “that [constituents] can embrace a Somali-American, hijab-clad Muslim woman as their representative, as the most qualified person to speak for them in the state capitol.”

It’s been an unlikely journey from a Somali refugee camp in Kenya to the Minnesota State House of Representatives, but 34-year-old Ilhan Omar’s historic rise to become the first female Somali-American legislator in the United States is now a beacon of hope for Muslims, and particularly Muslim women, around the world.

“There are many countries that have had women as heads of state, especially Muslim majority countries who’ve had” them, Nausheena Hussain, from the Reviving the Islamic Sisterhood of Empowerment, explained to a crowd of Omar supporters gathered at the state capitol building. “So, we may not have shattered that glass ceiling in electing a president or head of state in our country, but for me, and the thousands of Muslim women, and women of color, Ilhan Omar is that ceiling that’s been shattered for us.”

The negativity of the 2016 presidential election campaign, marked by calls for a ban on Muslim immigrants entering the United States, is now a footnote for Omar, who views her role in the national conversation about Muslim Americans as a positive one.

“It sort of provides a counternarrative to say that all is not bad,” she told VOA. “That there is good, and if someone like Ilhan – who has all the odds against her – can succeed, then we are able to see that as a country we do have a balance of good and bad and we need to find a way to come together to amplify the voices of good.”

British woman ‘arrested in Dubai after reporting rape’

A British woman has been charged with having extra-marital sex in Dubai after reporting she was raped, according to a UK-based legal advice group.

The Detained in Dubai group said the woman was arrested after she claimed she was raped by two British men.

It said she has been released on bail but her passport has been confiscated.

The Foreign Office said: “We are supporting a British woman in relation to this case and will remain in contact with her family.”

The woman, who is in her 20s, was reportedly attacked by two men from Birmingham while she was on holiday.

Egyptian blogger Aliaa Elmahdy: Why I posed naked

Egypt: Muslim mob attacks Christians, parade naked woman

An armed Muslim mob stripped an elderly Christian woman and paraded her naked on the streets in an attack last week in which seven Christian homes were also looted and torched in a province south of the Egyptian capital.According to the local Orthodox Coptic church and security officials, the assault in the Minya province village of Karma on Friday began after rumors spread that the elderly woman’s son had an affair with a Muslim woman — a taboo in conservative Egypt.

Police have arrested six men suspected of taking part in the violence and are looking for 12 more, the security officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi called for the culprits to be held accountable and gave the military a month to restore property damaged during the violence, at no cost to the owners.

In a statement issued Thursday by his office, el-Sissi said Egypt appreciates the role of “glorious Egyptian women” and that “the rights and the protection of their dignity are a humanitarian and patriotic commitment before being a legal and constitutional one.”

Anba Makarios, Minya’s top Christian cleric, told a talk show host on the private Dream TV network that the 70-year-old woman was dragged out of her home by the mob who beat her and insulted her before they stripped her off her clothes and forced her to walk through the streets as they chanted Allahu Akbar, or “God is great.”

The woman reported the incident to the police five days later, said Makarios, adding that she had initially found it too difficult to “swallow the humiliation” she suffered and go to the police.

Attiyah Ayad, a 58-year-old farmer from a nearby village who witnessed the attack, described how the mob chanted “we must drive the infidels out” as they looted and burned the Christian homes, one of which belonged to his relatives. He said they were armed with firearms, knifes and sticks.


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