South Portland chooses first US Somali mayor

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South Portland chooses first US Somali mayor

WASHINGTON – For the first time in history, a Somali-American woman has been elected mayor of the United States of America, a significant breakthrough for women of color, who have a fascinating history from which they were originally born. .

Deqa Dhalac, who fled Mogadishu three decades ago when Somalia was bleeding from the effects of civil war, was elected mayor of Portland on Monday, becoming the first woman from Somalia to hold the seat.

Portland is the fourth largest city in Maine. His latest achievement was the subject of a cheerful phone conversation Sunday with his mother, who still lives in Mogadishu.

Her mother remembered the prayer she recited to Dhalac when her daughter started high school. From now on and for all eternity, his mother would tell him back then, be a leader in a community of people from all walks of life, and may the light of your father guide you to a better future. Dhalac had forgotten his mother’s prescriptive words. She was happy to be reminded of this, Fox News reported.

“It was so beautiful,” Dhalac said ahead of Monday’s ceremony. “It brought tears to my eyes.”

After serving as a city councilor for District 5 for three years, Dhalac was officially elected Monday afternoon by her six fellow councilors to lead them and the city in 2022.

The principal of Deering High School in Portland, Abdullahi Ahmed, who is also a Somali community leader in Maine, delivered the opening prayer during the council’s dedication ceremony. He congratulated Dhalac for demonstrating, despite the setbacks that accompany prejudice, what the human spirit can accomplish with the support of a welcoming city.

“You are here to build on the work in progress,” Ahmed said. “We are so proud of you, Deqa.”

Reza Jalali, executive director of the Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center, was among many leaders from Maine’s immigrant community who attended the ceremony at South Portland High School. He is a Kurd born in Iran.

“All of us new Mainers are personally proud of this,” Jalali said upon arriving.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the country’s largest Muslim civil rights organization, hailed Dhalac’s election “as a sign of the growing civic engagement of the American Muslim community,” the door said. -speak Ibrahim Hooper. “We hope that Mayor Dhalac will help inspire a new generation of American Muslims as they play a growing role in building a better society.”

Upon becoming mayor, Dhalac takes on the additional duties of leading council meetings and leading city-wide initiatives for the same annual stipend of $ 3,000 that each councilor receives. A longtime advocate for social justice and human rights, she works for the Maine Department of Education as a specialist in family engagement and cultural responsiveness.

Dhalac, 53, has traveled to many countries and has gone through a wide variety of cultures, jobs and challenges to get to where she is today.

She grew up in a middle class family, a middle child with two brothers. His father was a former petroleum engineer who lost his job because he was a strong supporter of Somalia’s struggle for independence from colonial rule in the 1960s. He became an independent entrepreneur who worked with non-government agencies and made education a priority at home.

“My dad really introduced us to the world,” said Dhalac, “by reading books and telling us stories about the world and making sure we weren’t just stuck in what is going on in our world. country, in Somalia, but also by telling us that there is a larger world there. We were really prepared to understand how politics works, how our country was oppressed. “

When his father died in 1989, he knew Somalia was heading for a catastrophic political collapse, which continues today. He urged family members to make sure his beloved daughter leaves the country before her life is in danger.

“Girls are considered the honor of the family in Somalia,” Dhalac said. “My father was a firm believer in educating and empowering girls. I think he was a feminist in his own way.

Her accomplishments come years after her compatriot Ilhan Omar was elected the first Muslim woman in Congress. Ms. Omar, who is serving her second term as Minnesota’s 5th District Representative, has spoken out on refugee and human rights issues throughout her career.

A number of Somalis in the diaspora have broken down barriers to enter active politics in foreign countries. Currently, Ahmed Hussein is a Minister in the Government of Canada, where he has served for a few years now.

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