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Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar will be the first Muslim women to serve in Congress

Democrats from Michigan and Minnesota will bring more diversity to the House of Representatives.

by Emma Ockerman
Nov 7 2018, 3:39am

Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian-American from Michigan, and Ilhan Omar, a Somali American from Minnesota, will become the first Muslim-American women to serve in Congress after Tuesday night’s elections.

Tlaib, a Democrat, won Michigan’s 13th Congressional District as the sole major party candidate. She was also the first Muslim woman to win a seat on Michigan’s state legislature in 2008. She now replaces Rep. John Conyers, who was forced to resign amid allegations of sexual misconduct in December.

Omar, meanwhile, will replace Keith Ellison, the country’s first Muslim congressman, to represent Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District. (Ellison is running to become Minnesota’s attorney general race.) The 36-year-old will also become the first headscarf-wearing member of Congress after easily defeating Republican Jennifer Zielinski Tuesday.

Read: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez just became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress

Their wins, while expected, also pushed Democrats closer to taking control of the House and bolstered a historic surge of Muslims seeking political office this year. Their election is also an important referendum on President Trump’s islamophobic comments and his administration’s travel ban, which blocked new immigrant and nonimmigrant visas to people from Muslim-majority countries like Libya, Iran, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

“Congratulations to my sister @RashidaTlaib on your victory! I cannot wait to serve with you, inshallah,” Omar wrote on Twitter Tuesday night.

Cover: Rashida Tlaib, Democratic candidate for Michigan's 13th Congressional District, speaks at a rally in Dearborn, Mich., Friday, Oct. 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)