Rep. Ilhan Omar is facing another GOP challenger in November’s election — and she’s also a Muslim refugee.
Dalia al-Aqidi, a former White House correspondent from Iraq, said she felt compelled to run against the Somali-born lawmaker, calling her a divisive figure who has neglected her Minneapolis district.
“She’s spreading hatred, and she is spreading racism throughout not only her district, not only her state, but throughout the whole country, and this is very important,” al-Aqidi, 51, told The Post on Thursday after announcing her GOP run.
“She’s hurting the moderate Muslims; Muslims like myself. She doesn’t represent me as a Muslim,” she continued.
One strength of her candidacy, al-Aqidi said, is that she couldn’t use her background as a Muslim woman refugee to the US as they share the same basic backstory.
Al-Aqidi and her family fled Iraq to escape Saddam Hussein’s regime when she was in her 20s and became US citizens in the early 1990s. Omar fled war-torn Somalia with her family at age 9.
The challenger established a prestigious career as a political reporter, working for Voice of America and then as a White House correspondent for Middle Eastern television networks where she traveled around the world, covering conflicts in her native Iraq and neighboring Lebanon.
When asked about the fact she had only moved to Omar’s downtown Minneapolis congressional district months ago, al-Aqidi said she had spent every day talking to locals who were concerned the freshman lawmaker wasn’t representing them.
“I’ve done my homework for months and months before I decided to move here,” she said. “On Thanksgiving, I helped feed more than 250 homeless people in Minneapolis, which she doesn’t remember. She doesn’t even talk about homeless situation in Minneapolis, which is extremely cold and there are not enough places of shelters for them to sleep in.
“It’s a very, very important problem in Minneapolis, and it’s getting very cold.”
Al-Aqidi said she would also run on a campaign focused on curbing the gang violence on Minneapolis streets and bringing people together — countering the incendiary, anti-Semitic language which Omar has been criticized for.
On homelessness, Omar in November introduced the Homes for All Act, which would authorize the dramatic expansion of America’s public housing supply by 12 million.
However, members of the Somali community shared similar concerns as al-Aqidi with a Post reporter who was in Minneapolis in September, saying they feared Omar was not doing enough for the community.
“It’s just one crisis after another. She could have done so much more for our community with immigration and education, but she’s not. She’s picking fights,” said one Somali man who didn’t want to be named.
Omar’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Al-Aqidi, who joins several Republican challengers — businessman Lacy Johnson, special-education professional Danielle Stella, minister and missionary Lucia Vogel, activist Alley Waterbury and former auto sales manager Brent Whaley — said she was prepared for a tough fight in the district which Omar won by a landslide 78% in November 2018.
“If anyone thinks I’m just running to be in Congress, I would have chosen one of smallest districts in Virginia,” she said, “But I chose a battle because I believe in what I’m doing, because I believe in the Constitution and I’m defending the Constitution against people who are working against this country.”
Squad member Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, also has a cadre of opponents from both parties hoping to unseat her, and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., is facing a GOP challenge from David Dudenhoefer, the chairman of his district’s Republican party. Of the Squad, only Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., remains unopposed.
GOP Muslim refugee Dalia al-Aqidi, left, is taking on Democratic Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, right.Dalia Al-Aqidi for Congress; AP