First Somali-American lawmaker racially abused in Washington

First Somali-American lawmaker racially abused in Washington
The United States' first elected Somali-American lawmaker says she was harassed and called "ISIS" by a taxi driver in Washington, D.C.
2 min read
08 Dec, 2016
Ilhan Omar will be sworn into office on 3 January [AFP]
The United States' first Somali-American Muslim legislator said on Wednesday that she was harassed with "hateful" and "Islamophobic" language by her cab driver while visiting Washington.

Ilhan Omar - a former refugee who wears the hijab - said the "taunts and threats" occurred after she left policy discussions at the White House and headed to her hotel.

"I got in a cab and became subjected to the most hateful, derogatory, Islamophobic, sexist taunts and threats I have ever experienced," she wrote on her Facebook page.

"The cab driver called me ISIS and threatened to remove my hijab."

The 33-year-old said she rushed to leave the vehicle and that she planned to report the incident once she returned to Minneapolis, as the driver knew where she was staying in Washington.

"I am still shaken by this incident and can't wrap my head around how bold beings are becoming in displaying their hate towards Muslims," she wrote.

Omar immigrated to the United States after spending part of her childhood in a Kenyan refugee camp.

She was elected in November to the legislature of the Midwestern state of Minnesota and will be sworn into office on 3 January.

The lawmaker's victory was notable in a campaign season that saw Republican Donald Trump disparage Muslim immigrants and refugees before going on to win the White House.

The FBI last month reported that hate crimes against Muslims in the US surged 67 percent in 2015 - to the highest level since the aftermath of the 11 September terror attacks in 2001.

The bureau's Uniform Crime Report documented 257 anti-Muslim hate crimes, up from 154 in 2014.

Trump railed against Muslims and immigrants during the presidential race. In its final week the real estate magnate had targeted the Somali community in the state, where he ultimately lost to his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton 45 to 47 percent.

Nearly a third of Somali refugees resettled in the United States live in Minnesota. They number around 25,000 according to 2010 data, the latest available.

Agencies contributed to this report.