TIME

ILHAN OMAR IS ALREADY HOME

The refugee lawmaker is at the heart of controversy, and a community
Omar in her office at the U.S. Capitol on July 15

DAHABO MOHAMED, A FRESHMAN AT RICHFIELD HIGH NEAR Minneapolis, patiently waits in the school’s auditorium to meet her Congresswoman, Ilhan Omar. It’s a Tuesday morning in late May, and the line of students stretching ahead of Mohamed means she will lose part of her lunch period. But it is rare for her to see someone in a position of power who looks like her—a Muslim woman in traditional garb—so the free time can wait. “For people like me who wear a hijab, to see her doing what she’s doing is inspiring,” she says.

Omar’s decisive victory last fall was a groundbreaking moment for American Muslims. The Congressman she was succeeding, Keith Ellison, had been the first Muslim elected to Congress, but she and her colleague Rashida Tlaib are the first two Muslim-American women to serve in Congress. The House of Representatives had to change its rules to allow Omar to wear her hijab on the floor. For many Muslims, the 36-year-old Somali American’s election was a sign they were inching toward greater acceptance in American society.

But since she arrived in Washington, Omar has been embroiled in controversy. In mid-February,

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