Rashida Tlaib Becomes First Muslim Woman to Win Congressional Election
Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian-American, has become the first Muslim woman to win the Congressional Election in Michigan.
Rashida Tlaib narrowly beat Brenda Jones, Detroit’s City Council President, at a Democratic primary election for Michigan’s 13th Congressional District. Tlaib will now be succeeding Representative John Conyers Jr., and will run unopposed in November. However, Conyers’ remaining term in office will be served out by Jones, who beat Tlaib in another special election for the post.
Representing the Unrepresented
Tlaib is from Detroit, born from Palestinian immigrant parents, is the eldest of 14 children, and previously served as a state legislator for Michigan. She took her time to celebrate her victory after it was announced, choosing to wait until around 3 a.m. on Wednesday morning before expressing any visible signs of elation. Many of those that waited to celebrate her victory with her in the early morning were Arab-American immigrants who personalized the victory in the face of “Trump’s new America.”
Under the Trump Administration, many immigrants feel lost, assimilated with no concrete foothold. They see the system as hostile to them, and they feel their existence is threatened where they had otherwise hoped for freedom. They experience eroded identity, and embrace anything that would humanize them in a society where personal and cultural identity is everything.
Tlaib assured them that all would be well, saying she derives her strength in a divergent American society from being “truly Palestinian.” Tlaib had the Palestinian flag draped around her by her mother as she addressed the celebrants.
A Win for All
“I will fight back against every racist and oppressive structure that needs to be dismantled,” Tlaib stated. “You deserve better than what we have today with our president. I’m going to push back against everything that’s so un-American that’s coming out of this administration.”
Tlaib’s campaign strategy lies in engaging voters who feel marginalized and disenfranchised in the country. She has spent a lot of time campaigning toward people who nurse a distaste for the high-handedness of the Trump administration. With such electorates, she feels at home to speak her mind about the government and condemn corporate PAC funding, among other things.
Over 90 Muslims contested for various offices at different political levels. These included Abdul El-Sayed, a former health director in Detroit who lost his race for governorship to Gretchen Whitmer in the Democratic primary. Many of the Muslim contestants lost their elections, but Tlaib’s victory at the congressional level seems to be resonating as a satisfying compensation.