Rashida Tlaib becomes first Muslim Congresswoman: Ilhan Omar set to follow

Frederick Owens
November 9, 2018

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

In 2008, she became the first Muslim woman to serve in the MI state legislature.

Ilhan Omar, who has spoken openly about her time as a refugee in Kenya, was elected as the first Muslim woman to represent the State of Minnesota in Congress in Tuesday's election. Born in Mogadishu and came to the United States in 1995 at 14-years-old. "And that if you just believe, believe in the possibility of someone like me".

Although Muslim men have been elected to Congress before, Ilhan and Rashida are the first Muslim women to represent Americans in the US House of Representatives.

Minnesota state data showed Omar winning by a large margin, and MI media reported that Tlaib had won.

Omar, a Somalia-born community activist who served a single term in the Minnesota Legislature, easily won Tuesday's election for the Minneapolis-area congressional district being vacated by Rep. Keith Ellison.

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The women show a bit of the diversity of Muslims in the United States, one of the country's most diverse groups.

Ilhan Omar, candidate for State Representative for District 60B in Minnesota, gives an acceptance speech on election night, November 8, 2016, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Tlaib won Michigan's 13th district, running unopposed. Her campaign website says she became interested in politics at age 14, when she would interpret for her grandfather at local caucuses.

Omar, in addition to being one of the first Muslim women in Congress, will also be the first Somali-American member.

During her her campaign she pledged to secure a $15 minimum wage, stopping cuts to welfare programmes, such as Medicare and Social Security, as well as preventing tax relief to large corporations.

Meanwhile in the Senate - the upper chamber of Congress - it looks likely the Republican Party will hold a majority with 51 seats against the Democrats' 43.

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