Iraqi refugee launches GOP challenge to Ilhan Omar: ‘She needs to be stopped’

By Ronn Blitzer | Fox News
Thursday January 16, 2020

Dalia al-Aqidi is a Muslim Iraqi refugee who says she’s tired of hearing Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., play identity politics while using language she believes is “dividing” America.

So she is launching a campaign to unseat her in November.

Al-Aqidi, who discussed her newly launched campaign in an interview with Fox News, joins a growing field of Republicans looking to take on Omar. “She needs to be stopped,” al-Aqidi told Fox News in a phone interview. “I truly believe that I’m strong enough to beat her at her own game.”

She explained that in a race between the two of them, Omar would be limited in using her background as a Muslim woman who came to the U.S. as a refugee from Somalia to distinguish them — because they are “basically the same” in that backstory, she said.

Al-Aqidi decried the use of identity politics on the campaign trail.

“Muslims, Christians, Jews are all Americans,” she said, while going on to blast Omar’s past comments that have been labeled anti-Semitic.

“Every time she opens her mouth she says something either anti-U.S. or anti-Semitic,” al-Aqidi said. Omar has apologized for past tweets about Israel that played on anti-Semitic tropes.

Al-Aqidi also alleged that Omar is more interested in raising her own political profile than helping her constituents.

“I am loyal to the country that gave me a chance, gave me a brighter future,” she said, claiming that Omar “continually tries to weaken the country and divide us.”

Omar’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on al-Aqidi’s candidacy and accusations.

Al-Aqidi, who has 31 years of experience as a journalist, including as a White House correspondent for Alhurra, a U.S.-based Arabic channel that airs in the Middle East, says that one thing she has learned is that regularly attacking your opponents is not an effective strategy in politics.

“Conflict resolution is an art. You cannot do anything without a conversation. You talk to the other side and try to figure out something that will be acceptable,” she said.

“Trashing the other side will get you nowhere.”

As for her own platform, al-Aqidi says her main concerns are security at home and abroad, the economy – where she says President Trump is “doing great” – and education.

“I’m ready to fight and I believe that I could win,” she said.

There is a fairly long line of candidates hoping to take on Omar and the other members of the group of freshman congresswomen known as the “Squad.”

Omar is facing primary challenges from Democratic community organizer John Mason and attorney Antone Melton-Meaux. On the GOP side, al-Aqidi joins businessman Lacy Johnson, special-education professional Danielle Stella, minister and missionary Lucia Vogel, activist Alley Waterbury, and former auto sales manager Brent Whaley.

Squad member Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., 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.