Closing The Gap

Meet Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, the first Muslim women elected to Congress

Democrats pick former Michigan state Rep. Rashida Tlaib to run unopposed for the congressional seat that former Rep. John Conyers held for more than 50 years.
Al Goldis | AP 

Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar made history last night. The two are the first Muslim women elected to serve in Congress.

Tlaib, who ran unopposed after securing the Democratic nomination in August, won in Michigan's 13th Congressional District, and Omar, who faced Republican Jennifer Zielinki, won in Minnesota's 5th Congressional District.

Following the win, Omar took to Twitter to congratulate Tlaib on her victory and to acknowledge the history they made.


Tlaib, who was born to Palestinian parents, first made history in 2008 when she became the first Muslim woman to be elected State Representative. From 2009 to 2014 she served in the Michigan House of Representatives, where she helped secure millions of dollars for free health clinics, Meals on Wheels programs for seniors and before and after school education funding, according to her campaign website.

Record number of women elected to the House
Record number of women elected to the House

She is a strong critic of President Trump and was was once kicked out of a ticketed luncheon in Detroit in 2016 after heckling the then-presidential nominee about his policies and past treatment of women. After securing her primary win in August, she vowed to "fight back against every racist and oppressive structure that needs to be dismantled," and criticized the president for his harsh treatment of immigrants.

Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar speaks during the Democratic Farmer Labor (DFL) Party endorsement convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 17, 2018. 
Emilie Richardson | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Omar, who also makes history as the first Somali-American woman to be elected to Congress, came to the U.S. more than 20 years ago as a refugee. In 2016, she became the first Somali-American, Muslim legislator in the U.S. She was elected to serve in Minnesota's House of Representatives in District 60B, according to her campaign website.

In 2019, Omar will replace Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, who was the first Muslim elected to Congress. Tlaib will replace long time Rep. John Conyers, who stepped down in December amid sexual harassment allegations.

Following Tuesday's victory, Tlaib took to Twitter to thank her volunteers and supporters for "believing in the possibility of this moment."


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