First fe­male Mus­lim mem­bers of Congress

The Star Malaysia - - Focus -

Il­han Omar, 36, will be the first So­mali-Amer­i­can and hi­jab­wear­ing mem­ber of Congress. She won a House seat in a strongly Demo­cratic district in Min­neapo­lis, Min­nesota, suc­ceed­ing Keith El­li­son who was him­self the first Mus­lim ever elected to Congress.

“I’m Mus­lim and black,” Il­han said in a re­cent mag­a­zine in­ter­view. “I de­cided to run be­cause I was one of many peo­ple I knew who re­ally wanted to demon­strate what rep­re­sen­ta­tive democ­ra­cies are sup­posed to be.”

Il­han fled So­ma­lia’s civil war with her par­ents at the age of eight and spent four years at a refugee camp in Kenya.

Her fam­ily set­tled in Min­nesota in 1997, where there is a siz­able So­mali pop­u­la­tion.

She won a seat in the state’s leg­is­la­ture in 2016, be­com­ing the first So­mali-Amer­i­can law­maker in the coun­try.

Be­fore that, she had worked as a com­mu­nity or­gan­iser, a pol­icy wonk for city lead­ers in Min­neapo­lis, and as a leader in her lo­cal chap­ter of the NAACP – the African-Amer­i­can civil rights group.

Rashida Tlaib, 42, is a Detroit­born daugh­ter of Pales­tinian im­mi­grants, the el­dest of 14 chil­dren.

A fighter who once heck­led US Pres­i­dent Donald Trump dur­ing a 2016 cam­paign stop in Detroit, she said she didn’t run to make his­tory as Mus­lim.

“I ran be­cause of in­jus­tices and be­cause of my boys, who are ques­tion­ing their (Mus­lim) iden­tity and whether they be­long,” Tlaib said in an US tele­vi­sion in­ter­view in Au­gust.

“I’ve never been one to stand on the side­lines.”

Rashida Tlaib and Il­han Omar

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