Meet Rashida Tlaib: First Muslim woman to enter US Congress

  • Tlaib was born to two Palestinian immigrants in 1976

WASHINGTON – Rashida Tlaib has become the US’s first ever Muslim woman to be elected to Congress after she won a Democratic primary election to represent Michigan’s 13th district.

Tlaib’s selection was confirmed on Wednesday and she would be replacing John Conyers Jr, who served from 1965, until retirement last year following claims of sexual harassment.

In the nerve-racking contest that took place a day earlier, Ms. Tlaib took 33.6 per cent of the vote against Detroit Council President Brenda Jones who clinched 28.5 per cent of the vote; Tlaib had launched a massive campaign in which she raised over $1m and earned the confidence of public.

Interestingly, there are no Republican candidates contesting the seat, so Ms. Tlaib will enter Congress unopposed following a special election on November 6 for the two-year term starting in January 2019, when she will formally replace Mr. Conyers.

Ms. Tlaib comes from a humble background as she is the daughter of two Palestinian immigrants. She was born in Detroit in 1976, where her father had a job at the Ford motor company. Tlaib studied politics at Wayne State University, and then law, graduating in 2004.

John Conyers, who would be replaced by Tlaib

In an interaction with The Detroit News on Tuesday evening, she said her day had been filled with emotion, describing it as “happy chaos,”.

“Especially meeting voters and talking to them, they are inspired,” she told the paper before the polls closed.

Ms. Tlaib previously won a seat in the Michigan House of Representatives and served in the Michigan House from 2008 until 2014. She became the second Muslim woman to serve in a state legislature nationwide, after Jamilah Nasheed of Missouri.

The 42-year-old politician took to Twitter and said she was speechless at the development, vowing to serve people as a Congresswoman.

Tlaib, a mother of two, is currently an attorney and advocate at the Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice.