Somali-Americans in Minnesota take their anger to the polls

Anger with policies of US President Donald Trump has fired up Somali-Americans in Minnesota to vote in droves in the mid-term elections.

In the state of Minnesota, democracy matters.

Turnout was higher here in the presidential elections of 2016 than anywhere else in America.

Its twin capital cities of Minneapolis and St Paul are democrat to their core – they haven’t backed a Republican for president here since Nixon four decades ago.

Packed with art galleries and theatres, it’s the kind of liberal, progressive place where any mention of the President’s name tends to be accompanied with a grimace.

Nowhere more so than in Minneapolis’ Somali Mall, where the call to prayer is piped into shops selling samosas and abayas four times a day.

“He talks bad about Mexicans, he talks bad about religions and Muslims. You have to be like Donald Trump for him to respect you.

“We’re going to vote. My daughters… when the next term [comes], they’re going to be eligible to vote. So definitely, we’re going to vote him off.”

On the wall behind her is a poster urging customers to vote for a woman named Ilhan Omar.

A refugee herself, Omar fled Somalia as a child and is hoping to become one of the first two Muslim women ever to be elected to Congress.

As a rising star of the Democrats, it’s unsurprising that she has come under intense attack from Republicans.

What is more shocking is just how personal those attacks have been, with one right wing website falsely claiming Omar had married her brother.

“Its been really challenging,” Omar tells me.

“But we tried to run a campaign that would appear effortless… so that other people who see themselves as a woman, as an immigrant, would look at me and say I can do this and I’m going to do it”.

Many of her supporters say that since Trump became President they’ve experienced an upswing in racism.

But the chair of the State’s Republican Party, Jennifer Carnahan, who came to America as a child from Korea, urges caution.

“That’s not on the President,” she insists, when I ask her if Trump’s harsh rhetoric on race and immigration worries her.

“I grew up in this state and I faced racism when I was young. It’s interesting to me that people are always accusing Republicans of being racist when I’ve had hate mail and death threats and its all been from Democrats”.

It’s clear that even in this most multicultural of cities, the divisions run deep.

But for the new generation, candidates like Ilhan Omar offer a glimmer of hope that in the future, they will see more of themselves in the people who represent them.

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