'We're going to vote because we want Donald Trump out': Somali-Americans in Minnesota take their anger to the polls

In the state of Minnesota, democracy matters.

Turnout was higher here in the presidential elections of 2016 than anywhere else in America.

Its twin capital cities of Minneapolis and St Paul are democrat to their core - they haven’t backed a Republican for president here since Nixon four decades ago.

Packed with art galleries and theatres, it’s the kind of liberal, progressive place where any mention of the President’s name tends to be accompanied with a grimace.

Nowhere more so than in Minneapolis’ Somali Mall, where the call to prayer is piped into shops selling samosas and abayas four times a day.

Minneapolis. Credit: ITV

There are more Somalians in this city than anywhere else outside of East Africa. But they are also American - and, without exception, those we spoke to were very angry with their President.

In the Henna parlour, a mother and her daughters wait in the queue for the owner Sabrina Seyf to decorate their hands with her intricate designs.

Adama Touray, now 39, came to the US as an illegal immigrant from Gambia when she was pregnant with her daughter Amie.

The 15-year-old has grown up knowing nothing but the US, but wouldn’t be an American under Donald Trump’s new suggestion of withdrawing birthright citizenship.

“He’s racist, he’s very racist,” Adama tells me.

Adama Touray says she wants to vote Donald Trump out of office. Credit: ITV News

"He talks bad about Mexicans, he talks bad about religions and Muslims. You have to be like Donald Trump for him to respect you.

"We're going to vote. My daughters... when the next term [comes], they're going to be eligible to vote. So definitely, we're going to vote him off."

On the wall behind her is a poster urging customers to vote for a woman named Ilhan Omar.

A refugee herself, Omar fled Somalia as a child and is hoping to become one of the first two Muslim women ever to be elected to Congress.

As a rising star of the Democrats, it’s unsurprising that she has come under intense attack from Republicans.

What is more shocking is just how personal those attacks have been, with one right wing website falsely claiming Omar had married her brother.

Adama's daughters would not be classed as US citizens under Donald Trump's suggestion of withdrawing birthright citizenship. Credit: ITV News

“Its been really challenging,” Omar tells me.

“But we tried to run a campaign that would appear effortless... so that other people who see themselves as a woman, as an immigrant, would look at me and say I can do this and I’m going to do it”.

Many of her supporters say that since Trump became President they’ve experienced an upswing in racism.

But the chair of the State’s Republican Party, Jennifer Carnahan, who came to America as a child from Korea, urges caution.

“That’s not on the President,” she insists, when I ask her if Trump’s harsh rhetoric on race and immigration worries her.

“I grew up in this state and I faced racism when I was young. It’s interesting to me that people are always accusing Republicans of being racist when I’ve had hate mail and death threats and its all been from Democrats”.

It's clear that even in this most multicultural of cities, the divisions run deep.

But for the new generation, candidates like Ilhan Omar offer a glimmer of hope that in the future, they will see more of themselves in the people who represent them.

Ilhan Omar hopes to be one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress. Credit: ITV News


  • The city is home to the quietest place on earth, a chamber developed at Orfield Laboratories to acoustically test new products. The silence is so deep you can hear your own heartbeat. Which might offer some respite from the mudslinging of the midterms.

  • It’s the most politically engaged city in the USA - with a turnout rate of almost 75% in the Presidential elections of 2016. They voted for Hillary.

  • It's claimed that the phrase “holy cow” originated in the city, with Minneapolis baseball commentator Halsay Hall uttering the first recorded usage of it in response to a home run during a radio broadcast.

  • If Ilhan Omar, who came to the US as a refugee from Somalia, beats her Republican opponent in the midterms she will become the first Muslim women to take a seat in Congress. Her fellow Muslim Rashida Tlaib is also running unopposed in Michigan.

  • The city hosted the world’s first ever Internet Cat Video Festival at the Walker Art Festival.