Published: Wed, November 07, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Minnesota, Michigan send first Muslim women to US Congress

Minnesota, Michigan send first Muslim women to US Congress

Born in Detroit to Palestinian-American parents, Tlaib served in Michigan's state legislature from 2008 to 2014.

Ilhan Omar, a Somali refugee, won a House of Representatives seat in a heavily-Democratic district in the Midwestern state of Minnesota, where she will succeed Keith Ellison, himself the first Muslim elected to Congress.

Omar made history in 2016 when she was elected the first Somali-American legislator in the USA, for which she was featured in Firsts, TIME's multimedia project on trailblazing women have broken glass ceilings in their respective fields.

The Democrat lived at the Daad refugee camp in Kenya for four years and could not even speak English at the time she relocated to the US.

Omar made history in 2016 when she was elected the first Somali-American legislator in the U.S.

Omar also had the backing of Ocasio-Cortez in her primary race, and she will come to Congress having been an open critic of the Israeli government's treatment of Palestinians.

Democratic congressional candidate Ilhan Omar is seen after voting during midterm election in Minneapolis, Minnesota, November 6, 2018.

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Before that, she had worked as a community organizer, a policy wonk for city leaders in Minneapolis, and as a leader in her local chapter of the NAACP - the African-American civil rights group.

She was joined shortly after on Tuesday night by Omar, who ran for the Democrats in Minnesota's fifth district.

"I ran because of injustices and because of my boys, who are questioning their (Muslim) identity and whether they belong", Tlaib said in an USA television interview in August.

With no Republican challenger in the race, Tlaib's election on Tuesday became a formality.

"I've never been one to stand on the sidelines".

Omar campaigned on a similarly progressive platform, which calls for universal healthcare and tuition-free colleges.

She is also openly lesbian, in a state that is traditionally conservative.

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