Ilhan Omar, first Muslim refugee elected to the House, wants to be a check on rhetoric of fear

Fresh off her victory as the first refugee, the first Somali-American, and one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress, Democrat Ilhan Omar said Wednesday that she is going to Washington to help "serve as a check on the rhetoric of fear and division."

Congress needs to make "sure we are moving the country in a "direction that is more hopeful, inclusive and prosperous," Omar said in a "CBS This Morning interview" the morning after winning her election in Minnesota's 5th district with 78 percent of the vote. 

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Ilhan Omar CBS News

Last night, Omar and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan became the first Muslim women ever elected to Congress. Omar won against Republican candidate Jennifer Zielinski, replacing Rep. Keith Ellison. Tlaib won Michigan's 13th district.

Omar spoke during her campaign about her opposition to President Trump's travel ban against Muslim countries. In her "CBS This Morning" interview, she said she hoped to bring a "unique insight" into the "lives and struggles" of refugees when she goes to Washington in January.

"When I was coming to this country, I heard about it's promises," she said. But those promises, she said "aren't extended to everyone." "I couldn't sit on the sidelines," she said.

Omar was part of a record group of 53 women who ran for the Senate and 476 women who ran for the House of Representatives in 2018. Twenty-two of them won party nominations to the Senate and 235 won party nominations to the House. 

In addition to her other "firsts," Omar is first person born on the African continent to be elected to Congress.