News & Politics

Nation's First Somali-American Lawmaker Claims D.C. Cabbie Threatened Her for Being 'ISIS'

(Leila Navidi/The Star Tribune via AP)

What would be your first reaction if you got into a cab and the driver proceeded to insult and threaten you? Would you call the police? Would you report the driver to his cab company? Those would be reasonable responses.

A newly elected Minnesota lawmaker took a different approach. She tweeted and posted to Facebook. From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Ilhan Omar, soon to become the nation’s first Somali-American lawmaker, said Wednesday she was the target of Islamophobic and sexist taunts from a Washington, D.C., cabdriver while in his vehicle on Tuesday.

The state representative-elect from Minneapolis, in the nation’s capital Tuesday for policy training at the White House, detailed the encounter on her Twitter and Facebook accounts.

“On my way to our hotel, I got in a cab and became subjected to the most hateful, derogatory, islamophobic, sexist taunts and threats I have ever experienced,” she began. “The cabdriver called me ISIS and threatened to remove my hijab.”

Unsure how the encounter would end, she wrote that she tried to rush out of the cab and retrieve her belongings.

Omar said she plans to “file a report” once she returns to Minneapolis, but did not specify the nature of that report. Criminal complaints are typically filed in the jurisdiction where the alleged incident occurred. Timely reporting of such things generally secures better results. In any case, the incident does not appear to have generated much urgency beyond her social media posts.

If Omar’s account proves accurate, the driver should certainly face discipline from the cab company if not criminal charges stemming from the threats. But it’s hard to assume the worst of the driver when Omar sought no such recompense immediately. It’s almost as if she was more interested in drumming up the story than in effectively addressing the behavior.