Rashida Tlaib(R) and Ilhan Omar(L) became the first Middle Eastern women to be elected to Congress during the US mid-terms. . Photo : RR

Rashida Tlaib(R) and Ilhan Omar(L) became the first Middle Eastern women to be elected to Congress during the US mid-terms. . Photo : RR

 

First Muslim women winning seats in US Congress are Africans

The two women made history as incoming election results showed that the pair had been chosen to represent Michigan’s 13th district and Minnesota’s 5th district respectively. They also become the first Muslim women to be elected to Congress.

Democratic candidate Rashida Tlaib is a Palestinian-American whose parents hail from Beit Ur Al-Fauqa, west of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank and Beit Hanina, north of Jerusalem. Her family moved to Detroit, where Tlaib was born and raised.

Ilhan Omar, a member of the Democrat-affiliated “Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party” (DFL) also joined Tlaib as the first female Middle Eastern Congress member. Omar was born in Somali capital Mogadishu, where she lived until the early 1990s when her family was forced to flee the country’s civil war. She spent four years living in a refugee camp in Kenya until her family moved to the USA. Speaking shortly after the results came through, Omar told a packed hall:

I stand before you tonight as your Congresswoman elect with many firsts behind my name – the first woman of colour to represent our state in Congress, the first woman to wear a hijab to represent our state, the first refugee ever elected to Congress and one of the first Muslim women to be elected to Congress.

Both women ran unopposed in their districts after winning this summer’s Democratic primaries and the Republican Party failed to put forward candidates. They were also vocal in their support for each another, with Tlaib writing to Omar on Twitter in August that: “I can’t wait to walk onto the floor of United States Congress hand in hand with you. So incredibly proud of you.”

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