Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Americans have finished casting their votes in the 2018 midterm elections. The outcomes of some races were still too close to call early in the morning on Wednesday, November 7, 2018, but two Congressional races had resulted in firsts for the United States. In Michigan’s 13th congressional district and Minnesota’s 5th congressional district, two Muslim women became the first female Muslims to win seats in the United States’ Congress.

Forty-two year old Rashida Tlaib had already made history once by becoming the first Muslim woman to win a seat in the Michigan Legislature in 2008. She is the daughter of Palestinian immigrants and a native of Detroit. She ran on a platform that included a higher minimum wage, preventing cuts to welfare programs and refusing to grant large corporations tax relief. She was the only candidate from a major party to run in her district.

Ilhan Omar came to the United States at the age of 14. She and her family fled the civil war in Somalia and entered America as refugees.  She entered American politics when she began attending local caucuses for the Democratic Farmer Labor party with her grandfather. Omar had spoken in the past of wanting to use her experience as a refugee when talking about immigration. In the 2018 midterm elections, however, Omar focused on an extremely liberal platform which included a call for universal healthcare and free college.

Omar and Tlaib were not the only “firsts” to make it to Congress in the 2018 midterms, and they were far from the only women headed to Washington. A record number of women were elected in November 2018. Both Muslim women also gained seats previously held by a man. Tlaib’s seat was previously held by John Conyer, and Omar succeeded the first Muslim congressman, Keith Ellison, when he vacated his seat in order to run for the office of Minnesota’s attorney general. The full roster of who will be joining these Muslim women in Congress is not yet complete, but everyone involved will have their work cut out for them in a divided Congress.

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