Ghazala Hashmi, Abrar Omeish First Muslim Women Elected to Virginia’s State Senate

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Libyan-origin Abrar Omeish and Indian American Ghazala Hashmi.

Waquar Hasan | Caravan Daily

NEW DELHI – Hyderabad-born Ghazala Hashmi and Libya-origin Abrar Omeish are the two first Muslim women to win elections in United States’ southeastern state Virginia making a history in America. Hashmi, who migrated to America in a younger age fifty years ago, is also first Indian-American to win elections in the state.

The election of Hashmi to the Virginia State Senate from 10th Senate district caught a lot of attentions in India as well as the US as she become the first Muslim-woman and Indian-American to enter into Virginia state defeating incumbent Republican senator Glen Sturtevant. Her election sent such a strong message that after her victory as a Democrat candidate, former US Secretary of State tweeted to congratulate her.

“I also want to shout out @Hashmi4Va, the first Muslim woman elected to the VA State Senate. As she said yesterday, her victory “belongs to all of you who believed that we needed to make progressive change here in Virginia, for all of you who felt that you haven’t had a voice,” Clinton, who was runner up in the last US Presidential election.

Reacting to Clinton’s congratulatory words, Hashmi said, “I am deeply honored by your words, Secretary Clinton. You broke so many glass ceilings for women in public service”.

In her campaign, Hashmi also received support from former US President Barak Obama. She announced Obama’s endorsement on her Twitter.

“I am so honored to receive President @BarackObama’s endorsement. I’m proud to have his support as we work to restore integrity, equality, and justice to our government. Together, we can protect health care expansion, pass common-sense gun safety, and uplift every Virginian,” she tweeted.

Hashmi, who left her job as the director of Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Reynolds Community College to campaign full time, raised three prominent issues in her campaign – Education, Health and Gun Violence.

Terming her victory as the victory of people of Virginia, she again asserted to work on affordable healthcare and public education. “After flipping the Senate, I’ll have Democrats by my side to fight to protect Virginians from the climate crisis and senseless gun violence, and work to expand our access to affordable health care and funding for public education. I can’t wait to work together in the state Senate,” She tweeted.

After her victory, she was flooded with congratulations from public figures as well as common people.

Congratulating her, Zafar Akber of Hyderabad, who now lives in Dubai, said: “We knew her as Munni and have been following her ever since she was a child. Congratulations. We are all so happy to see her as a great senator.” Akber, who works with an airline company, is an alumnus of Aizza High School in Malakpet.

Hashmi was raised in a small town in Georgia and earned a BA in English from Georgia Southern University and a Ph.D. from Emory University.

She and her husband Azhar moved to the Richmond area in 1991, and she has spent the past 25 years as a leading educator in Virginia’s college and university system.

The second Muslim woman who win elections in Virginia is Libya-origin made history becoming the youngest elected official in Virginia. She wins at large seat on the Faifax Bounty School Board.

Omeish, who is the daughter of Esam and Badria Omeish, emigrated from Libya to the United States. She attended a Muslim academy and later attended public school in Fairfax County. She later studied Yale University.

Omeish is the co-founder of the non-profit youth-led organization GIVE: Growth and Inspiration through Volunteering and Education that provides youth with resources to excel in education and leadership.

 

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