Iraqi-Born Muslim, a Former Refugee, Launches Campaign to Unseat Ilhan Omar

By Patrick Goodenough | January 17, 2020 | 4:20am EST
Dalia al-Aqidi. (Photo: Facebook)
Dalia al-Aqidi. (Photo: Facebook)

( – Making waves on social media on Thursday: An Iraqi-American, Muslim, former refugee, and supporter of President Trump has launched a campaign to unseat Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) in November.

Dalia al-Aqidi, whose three-decade journalism career includes a stint as White House correspondent for the U.S.-government-funded Alhurra satellite network, posted online an announcement video introducing herself, and explaining her decision to take on Omar, who has frequently courted controversy since entering Congress in January 2018.

“We might seem nearly alike – both Muslims, both women, both refugees. But we couldn’t be further apart,” Aqidi says. “She spends her time in Congress sowing seeds of division, actively supporting our enemies.”

“Where President Trump ended the murderous reign of [Iran’s Qods Force commander] Qassem Soleimani, a vicious terrorist, killer of American soldiers and countless innocent civilians, Ilhan Omar was outraged, attacking the president, defending the terrorist, driving us further and further apart.”

(At this point the video features part of a tweet from Omar on the day Soleimani was killed in a U.S. airstrike: “We are outraged the president would assassinate a foreign official …”

“She claims to speak for all Muslims,” Aqidi continues, “but she does not speak for me.”

“As an American born in Iraq, it’s personal to me. I was so proud, my country, my president removed such an evil from the world.”

On her Twitter account profile (28,500 followers as of Thursday), 51-year-old Aqidi describes herself as “Refugee, Muslim, Journalist.”

On her Twitter profile, Omar (1.8 million followers), 37-year-old Omar describes herself as “Mom, Refugee, Intersectional Feminist.”

“Like Omar, Dalia is a Muslim refugee who sought a better life in America,” Aqidi’s campaign website says. “Unlike Omar, Dalia is proud of our nation and works every day to fulfill the oath she made when she became a citizen.”

According to her bio, Aqidi and her family left Saddam Hussein-ruled Iraq in 1988. She worked for various U.S. and Middle East media outlets and in 2007 was attached to the Multi-National Security and Transition Command in Baghdad (a Pentagon operation from 2004-2009 designed to help the Iraqi government train and equip its security forces).

There, she helped “to develop a new Iraqi News Center and train Iraqi security ministries on how to develop and sustain professional media offices.”

“Following this experience, Dalia returned once again to journalism, reporting from Iraq, Lebanon, the United Kingdom, and eventually the U.S.”

Aqidi was featured in a 2004 Chicago Tribune article, which described her as possibly “the most-watched television correspondent covering President Bush’s re-election campaign that no one in America has ever seen.”

“But through her reports for Alhurra, the U.S.-sponsored TV channel for the Middle East, as well as her background on television and the stage, Al-Aqidi is readily recognized and besieged for autographs when she returns to her home region.”

In 2014, ISIS fighters rampaging across Iraq identified Christians’ properties by tagging them with the Arabic letter N (for “Nasrani,” or Nazarene).

Across the region and beyond, supporters of Christians began using the same symbol on social media accounts, in a show of solidarity.

When LBC1, a private television network in Lebanon, joined the campaign by adding the Arabic letter N to its name, the network attributed the decision to the example set by Aqidi to wear a cross around her neck in solidarity with Iraq’s Christians.

Aqidi told LBC1 at the time that the jihadists attacking Christians “do not represent Islam.”

She was quoted as saying that her decision to wear a cross did not mean she was converting from Islam, “but I am not with those killing Christians in my name.”


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