Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib and Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar on Tuesday made history by winning their elections and becoming the first Muslim women to be elected to the United States Congress.
Tlaib won the congressional seat for Michigan’s 13th District after former Representative, John Conyers abruptly stepped down following sexual harassment allegations levelled against him thus leaving the seat vacant.
Tlaib, a Palestinian-American Muslim ran under the Democratic Party, having previously served six years in the state legislature. With no Republican opponent, she defeated Etta Wilcoxon of the Green Party and Sam Johnson of the Working Class Party.
Tlaib campaigned on a platform that advocated for a $15 minimum wage, free public college tuition and ending corporate welfare.
On the other hand, Omar won Minnesota’s 5th District which was formerly held by Rep. Keith Ellison and became the first Muslim to take a seat in Congress. Ellison did not run for re-election.
Omar, another Democrat, is a Somali-American who came to the US over two decades ago as a refugee. She campaigned on a progressive platform and won the endorsement of the Democratic Party’s fledgling progressive wing, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
She ran against and defeated Republican candidate, Jennifer Zielinski thus making her the first congresswoman to wear a hijab.
This year, a record 90 Muslims were contesting in the polls since the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Six Muslims ran for political office at the national level. Aga Khan, Omar Qudrat and Mahmoud Mahmoud all ran for a seat in the House of Representatives but fell short of achieving their goals.