Leila Ali Elmi
black Scandinavia, black Sweden

Elmi is the first Swedish MP to wear a hijab and the first of Somali descent.

Source: Al Jazeera

Leila Ali Elmi’s earliest memories of Sweden are as a two-year-old who fled civil war in Somalia with her family.

She remembers her favourite pair of yellow trousers and moments of her childhood spent in the school playground.  

“I had that fairy-tale mentality. I didn’t see colour, I didn’t see class differences,” she said, speaking to Al Jazeera.

Elmi is the first Swedish MP to wear a hijab and the first of Somali descent.

“[As a teenager] I remember two Somali classmates of mine,” she said. “One wanted to be a scientist and the other wanted to be a professional soccer player. Our teacher said to them: ‘You will never amount to that.’

Leila Ali Elmi

Prior to that, I believed any dreams were possible. But that was a defining moment in my life, because vicariously, through those boys, my dreams were crushed.”

Now a member of parliament for the progressive Green Party, the 31-year-old has become an impassioned voice for Angered, a north-eastern suburb of Gothenburg that has been her home for 29 years. 

Read the full Al Jazeera story.

Read the Swedish Green Party profile.

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