First two Muslim women elected to US Congress

Frederick Owens
November 7, 2018

Ilhan Omar, a mother of three, was elected to the House for Minnesota.

Minnesota's first Somali-American state representative has made history: She is now the country's first Somali-American elected to Congress. She has a bachelor's degree in politics from North Dakota State University and has also studied public affairs.

Tlaib, who served in the Michigan House from 2009 until 2014, defeated five other candidates in the August primary election to win the nomination to run for a full term representing the heavily Democratic district, which covers much of Detroit and some of its suburbs.

In Minnesota, Omar, about 36 and a naturalised American citizen and state representative, follows another trailblazer: She will succeed US Congressman Keith Ellison, who in 2006 became the first Muslim elected to Congress and is stepping down to run for state attorney general.

Ilhan Omar in an October file photo.

Omar's family fled Somalia in 1991 due to civil war. A proud Palestinian, Tlaib has also been an advocate for Palestinian rights and is an outspoken critic of Trump.

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Omar considers herself a Democratic Socialist. Although her election was officially announced on Tuesday, she was elected unopposed as no one came forward to challenge Rashida in another deeply Democratic district.

Tlaib, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, said in recent interviews that she favors a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as opposed to a two-state solution that would establish a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Her parents were Palestinian immigrants from the West Bank and Jerusalem.

Two years ago, she became the first Somali-American to win a seat in a state legislature, on the same night Republican Donald Trump won the presidency after a campaign in which he called for a ban on all Muslims entering the United States.

Omar will also be the first Congress member to wear a Muslim hijab, or head scarf.

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