A onetime Somali refugee and the daughter of Palestinian immigrants shared the historic distinction Tuesday of becoming the first two Muslim women elected to the US Congress.
Both women — Ilhan Omar, 37, and Rashida Tlaib, 42 — are Democrats from the Midwest and outspoken advocates of minority communities that have found themselves in the sights of US President Donald Trump´s anti-immigrant policies.
Omar 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.
Tlaib’s victory was no surprise. She ran unopposed in a congressional district that stretches from Detroit to Dearborn, Michigan.
Their stories trace a similar trail-blazing rise through local politics.
“I’m Muslim and black,” the hijab-wearing Omar 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,” she said.
Ilhan Omar, newly elected to the US House of Representatives on the Democratic ticket.
Omar 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