Amid the divisive political climate of 2016, Ilhan Omar’s election as the nation’s first Somali-American lawmaker gave many people hope. But less than a month after she won her Minnesota statehouse race, Omar said she was harassed for being Muslim.
Omar was visiting Washington D.C. for policy training at the White House this week, and while riding in a taxi back to her hotel on Tuesday, she was subjected to “the most hateful, derogatory, islamophobic, sexist taunts and threats” she had ever experienced, the lawmaker wrote in a post on Facebook.
“The cab driver called me ISIS and threatened to remove my hijab,” she wrote. “I wasn’t really sure how this encounter would end as I attempted to rush out of his cab and retrieve my belongs.”
Omar told commenters on her Facebook post that she had not yet reported the incident because she didn’t “feel safe enough to say anything at the moment” since the cab driver knew where she was staying. She wrote she planned to report the event once she returns to Minneapolis.
She wrote that she was “still shaken” by the encounter and had a hard time wrapping her head around how “bold” people are becoming in attacking Muslims. Hate crimes against Muslims and other minorities surged last year, and in the month since the Nov. 8 election, the Southern Poverty Law Center has counted hundreds of acts of hateful intimidation and harassment across the country.