WASHINGTON: Rashida Tlaib, the 42-year-old former social worker and political activist who once disturbed a Donald Trump speech, won a Democratic primary in Detroit safe seat on Wednesday, clearly positioning her to be first Muslim woman in the US Congress after the upcoming November mid-term polls.
There were no Republican or third-party candidates in her way to the US Congress from the Detroit seat that fell vacant after 89-year-old John Conyers resigned after 52 years in the House following sexual harassment accusations. Rashida’s two-year congressional term at the House of Representatives is scheduled to start in January 2019.
Mother of two and daughter of Palestinian immigrants, Rashida Tlaib holds a law degree and has worked as an attorney for social justice. Born and raised in southwest Detroit, she was also the first Muslim woman elected to the Michigan state assembly, serving from 2009-14.
An interesting part of her political journey is an incident of 2016 when Donald Trump was running for White House. In August 2016, she had interrupted an address of presidential candidate Trump, telling him “our children deserve better” and imploring him to read the US Constitution, before she was grabbed by security guards and ejected from the hall.
Currently, there is only one Muslim in the US Congress — Representative Andre Carson who was elected in 2008 from Indiana.
The US Congress received its first Muslim Member in 2006 when Keith Ellison got elected to the House of Representatives from Minnesota.
From West Bank in Palestine, Rashida Tlaib got emotional when she won the primary on Wednesday. “Thank you so much for making this unbelievable moment possible. I am at a loss for words,” she tweeted. “I cannot wait to serve you in Congress.”
Video footage shared on social media showed an emotional Rashida surrounded by ecstatic supporters and hugged by her mother, who comes from a village in the West Bank, where members of her extended family were cheering her on.
“They’re glued to the TV. My grandmother, my aunts, my uncles in Palestine are sitting by and watching their granddaughter,” she said tearfully.
— With inputs from AFP