In the evening, a group of young Muslim men and women from Minnesota, Ohio and the Washington metropolitan area, were buzzing about the news as they gathered at an event in McLean, Virginia to celebrate Omar's journey from Somali refugee to U.S. congresswoman.
Rep. Ilhan Omar, a freshman Democrat representing Minnesota's 5th Congressional District, smiles as the House of Representatives assembles for the first day of the 116th Congress at the Capitol in Washington, Jan. 3, 2019.
Ibrahim Ismail is a father of four. Like Omar, he came to the United States as a refugee in 1996 after fleeing the conflict in Somalia. His oldest daughter is now in a training school for new Virginia police recruits. He said the news about the two Muslim congresswomen meant something special for him.
"It is an inspiration and special for me that I can show, finally, to my daughter that, there is a Muslim woman like Ilhan Omar, an immigrant and a woman of color, a Somali, who is able to stand up for Muslim values, share them with the American public through a strong voice in the Congress,” he said.
Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), the first Palestinian-American elected to the House, poses with supporters outside her office at the Longworth House Office Building (LHOB), in Washington, D.C., Jan. 3, 2019.
"I am so proud to see people with my value like Omar and Tlaib being leaders in this country and I am happy that my daughter will grow up in an era where to have Muslim leaders in the U.S. politics is not news but a normal,” said Tahira Khanana, a 38-year-old mother of three with the Cincinnati chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
At Omar’s celebration, she focused on other issues. She noted that her celebration comes at a time the federal government remains partially shut down, and her homeland, Somalia, is still affected by Trump-imposed limits on immigration.
“I came from a country under our president’s immigration ban. If this was happening 23 years ago, I would not represent all of you in Congress today,” she said struggling to hide her tears.
A sign marks the office of incoming Rep. Ilhan Omar, a freshman Democrat representing Minnesota's 5th Congressional District, in the Longworth House Office Building, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
She said one of her first tasks as a representative in Congress is to fight to end the shutdown.
"I came to Washington when our federal government remains shut down over “a silly border wall. I have to join the fight to reopen it," she said.