Muslim women make history with wins in Michigan, Minnesota

07 November, 2018, 15:39 | Author: Sue Mclaughlin
  • Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib are set to become the first Muslim women elected to the US Congress

Voters in Minnesota and MI this morning elected the first two Muslim women to serve in the US Congress, a former refugee who fled Somalia's civil war and a Detroit-born Palestinian-American.

Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian American, will take over the seat vacated by former Rep. John Conyers.

Omar, the first Somali-American Muslim to be elected to the Minnesota legislature or any elected office in the United States, is also part of a historic wave of women looking to clinch higher. Her real victory came when she won the Democratic primary.

Democratic US congressional candidate Rashida Tlaib (left) celebrates with her mother and brother at her midterm election night party in Detroit, Michigan, November 6, 2018.

Omar, 36, fled her homeland of Somalia at the age of eight and lived in a Kenyan refugee camp before immigrating with family to the United States.

She chose to run for Congress after Ellison, who is also black, made a decision to give up his seat after 12 years in Congress to run for attorney general of Minnesota.

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Like Omar, she blazed a trail through MI politics, becoming the first Muslim woman to serve in the MI state legislature in 2008.

She shared: "We changed the course of history at a time we thought it was impossible".

Like Omar, Tlaib championed progressive policies, including a Medicare for All, a $15 minimum wage and immigration reform. This seat has been held by Democrats since 1963.

On January 1, 2009, Rashida became the first Muslim American woman to serve in the Michigan Legislature, and the second Muslim woman in history to be elected to any USA state legislature.

The seat she won is in a predominantly African-American congressional district with few Muslim voters. She could not speak English and only learnt by watching television.

"It just shows how incredibly wonderful our country can be", she said.

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