Redmond resident Yasmin Ali joined U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene of the 1st Congressional District as her guest to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address on Feb. 5.
Ali immigrated to the United States 25 years ago from India. She serves on the education committee for the Muslim Association of the Puget Sound (MAPS) and is the founder of Skillspire, a company devoted to filling the technology skills gap among under-represented populations in the greater Seattle area.
“For me, it was definitely a fantastic experience,” Ali said. “I’m really thankful to Rep. Suzan DelBene for giving me this opportunity to experience this once-in-a-lifetime [experience].”
As an American Muslim woman, Ali said it was incredibly important for her to be a voice for the diverse population she serves.
“I don’t think I even have to open my mouth and speak anything,” she said. “Just the fact that I wear a scarf says a lot — that I am a Muslim, I am a minority woman, I come from a different background — that itself speaks volume.”
DelBene previously stated that Ali embodies all that it means to be an American.
“I’m thrilled to have [had] her join me at the State of the Union, and to celebrate the contributions of immigrants to our society,” said DelBene in a release.
Ali said the United States has become a melting pot for diverse cultures and backgrounds and everyone deserves a seat at the table so they can share their story and perspective.
With the 2017 travel ban — often referred to the Muslim ban because it affected countries that had a Muslim majority — and immigration policies in place, Ali said those are the things that go against the United States’ shared values. And when hearing Trump’s speech, Ali said she didn’t hear anything new.
However, she did say that given her religion and gender, it’s important for her to break down the myths of Muslim women being oppressed and not given rights.
“For me, it’s a huge step forward that we as a Muslim community come out and speak against all the things that affect every single person out there,” she said. “I think it’s very important for me to have attended as one of the community members.”