State Rep.-elect Ilhan Omar reports cabdriver incident to D.C. authorities

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Ilhan Omar addressed supporters at her election night party at the Courtyard Minneapolis Downtown after she won a seat in the Minnesota Legislature. AARON LAVINSKY, STAR TRIBUNE -
By Ricardo Lopez
She filed reports of threats, bigotry with two Washington, D.C., agencies.
State Rep.-elect Ilhan Omar, DFL-Minneapolis, said Monday that she reported to Washington, D.C., authorities an incident from last week in which she said she was harassed and threatened by a cabdriver.
In a statement released by her campaign Monday, Omar said she reported the incident with D.C.’s Department of For-Hire Vehicles, as well as the D.C. Office of Human Rights.
Omar said she has not filed a police report “because I believe criminalizing hate is not a solution and will only strengthen individual malice. Bigotry is a product of ignorance; by educating people, we will move toward respect and understanding.”
Omar, who will become the country’s first Somali-American state legislator, was in the nation’s capital last week for a conference attended by other state lawmakers. In a post on Facebook and Twitter last Wednesday, Omar said that she and her sister endured harassment the day before by a D.C. cabdriver after she attended a training at the White House.
The driver, Omar said, called her “ISIS” and threatened to remove her hijab. In a Facebook reply to her original post, she said she would report the incident to authorities once she returned to Minnesota, citing concerns for her safety because the driver knew the location of her hotel.
The original Facebook post spread widely, with users sharing it more than 1,700 times and attracting national media attention.
The Star Tribune since Wednesday has unsuccessfully sought an interview with Omar, who later recounted the event on MSNBC Thursday night in an appearance on “The Rachel Maddow Show.”
Omar has not provided information about the cab she took, nor a fuller description of the driver who in her Monday statement she described as an “African immigrant.”
“It is essential we recognize what happened to me is not an isolated incident nor is it an extreme example of such encounters,” Omar said. “Women and Muslims share these experiences every day.”
Omar, 34, is also director of policy at Women Organizing Women Network, a group dedicated to pushing East African women into civic leadership. She faced only nominal Republican opposition in November in a heavily DFL Minneapolis district to win the seat.

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