Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Ilhan Omar Reelected to Congress, Muslim Students Association responds

Monday, November 9, 2020
Image used with permission through Creative Commons

Tuesday night, incumbent Democrat Ilhan Omar was reelected to the US House in the 5th Congressional District in Minnesota. Omar, who was first elected to office in 2018, was one of the first Muslim-American women in Congress.

Muslim Students Association Vice President Jowairia Khalid said representation is important to feeling connected to elected officials and the democratic process. Ilhan Omar being reelected to Congress is a significant step in creating more representation.

“There’s barely been any diversity,” she said. “We need that representation.”

It’s difficult to truly understand someone’s perspective and represent their interests if you don’t share the same experiences, she said.

“When she won in 2018, I saw this big leap of hope in my chest,” Khalid said.

She said Omar’s experience as an immigrant gives her a different perspective. When America didn’t live up to her ideals, Khalid said Omar was better able to realize what should be fixed and how.

When Ilhan Omar was first elected, Khalid said she felt inspired to pursue her own dreams of running for office. She said she’s wanted to enter politics since she was nine years old, but only felt represented by late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Ginsburg was the second woman on the Supreme Court and a significant role model as a woman in government, Khalid explained. An aspiring Supreme Court judge herself, Khalid said she felt represented as a woman by her. More recently, she said she’s seen expanding representation of women in office, which has given her hope for the future.

While watching election coverage Tuesday evening, Khalid said she felt anxious about the night’s upcoming results. However, she said when she considers Omar in office, she feels hopeful for the future. Khalid admires the impact Omar has had during her first term in office, and said she hopes she creates even more change in the future.

“She’s very powerful with her words, and she stands up to Trump when he says she should go back to her country,” Khalid said. “She stands for everything America should stand for, and everything America needs.”