Chicago: A onetime Somali refugee and the daughter of Palestinian immigrants shared the historic distinction Tuesday of becoming the first two Muslim women elected to the US Congress.
Both women — Ilhan Omar, 37, and Rashida Tlaib, 42 — are Democrats from the Midwest and outspoken advocates of minority communities that have found themselves in the sights of US President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant policies.
Omar won a House seat in a strongly Democratic district in Minneapolis, Minnesota, succeeding Keith Ellison who was himself the first Muslim ever elected to Congress.
Tlaib’s victory was no surprise. She ran unopposed in a congressional district that stretches from Detroit to Dearborn, Michigan.
Their stories trace a similar trail-blazing rise through local politics.
“I’m Muslim and black,” the hijab-wearing Omar said in a recent magazine interview.
“I decided to run because I was one of many people I knew who really wanted to demonstrate what representative democracies are supposed to be,” she said.
Omar fled Somalia’s civil war with her parents at the age of eight and spent four years at a refugee camp in Kenya.
Her family settled in Minnesota in 1997, where there is a sizable Somali population.
She won a seat in the state’s legislature in 2016, becoming the first Somali-American lawmaker in the country.
Before that, she had worked as a community organizer, a policy wonk for city leaders in Minneapolis, and as a leader in her local chapter of the NAACP — the African-American civil rights group.
She decided to run for Congress after Ellison, who is also black, decided to give up his seat after 12 years in Congress to run for attorney general of Minnesota.
Omar has forged a progressive political identity. She supports free college education, housing for all, and criminal justice reform.
She opposes Trump’s restrictive immigration policies, supports a universal health care system, and wants to abolish US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which has conducted deportation raids.
Rashida Tlaib is the Detroit-born daughter of Palestinian immigrants — the eldest of 14 children.
A fighter who once heckled US President Donald Trump during a 2016 campaign stop in Detroit, she says she didn’t run to make history as Muslim.
“I ran because of injustices and because of my boys, who are questioning their (Muslim) identity and whether they belong,” Tlaib said in an US television interview in August.
“I’ve never been one to stand on the sidelines.”
Like Omar, she blazed a trail through Michigan politics, becoming the first Muslim woman to serve in the Michigan state legislature in 2008.
In August, she emerged as the winner of a Democratic primary for a seat vacated by John Conyers, a long-time liberal lion who stepped down in December amid sexual harassment allegations and failing health.
With no Republican challenger in the race, Tlaib’s election on Tuesday became a formality.
The seat she won is in a predominantly African-American congressional district with few Muslim voters.
She says her constituents were attracted to her progressive politics, which are the polar opposite of Republicans.
Tlaib has advocated for universal health care, a USD 15 national minimum wage, union protections, and tuition-free college education.
She also has been mindful of the historic nature of her candidacy.
During her tearful primary election victory speech in August, with her immigrant mother by her side, she said relatives in the West Bank were watching her success.
“It just shows how incredibly wonderful our country can be,” she said.
Ayodhya on high alert following intelligence inputs
Ayodhya: Amid VIP movements, Ayodhya has been put on high alert soon after intelligence inputs indicated a possible terror attack in the city.
“We have put more force into action. The force has been alerted. Also, intelligence officials in the civil dress have come here. They are checking all hotels, restaurants and railway stations. The police force is vigilant and keeping a track of all the movements,” Anil Kumar Sisodia, Superintendent of Police City, told ANI.
This comes ahead of Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s visit to Ayodhya on Sunday along with his party MPs.
According to reports, the security has also been heightened keeping in mind the hearing on 2005 Ram Janmabhoomi attack on June 18.
Seven died while cleaning hotel sewer in Vadodara
Vadodara: Seven persons, including four sanitation workers, died due to asphyxiation on Saturday while cleaning sewer of a hotel in Gujarat’s Vadodara district, officials said.
The incident happened at a hotel in Fartikui village in Dabhoi tehsil, about 30 km from Vadodara city. Three employees of the hotel were also among those killed.
“When one sanitation worker failed to come out of the manhole, others went inside. All of them died due to asphyxiation,” district collector Kiran Zaveri told PTI.
Manmohan retires from Rajya Sabha
New Delhi: For the first time in 28 years, former prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s name ceased to be part of the list of members of the Rajya Sabha on its Web site, and was included in the list of former members of Parliament.
With the Congress lacking the numbers in the Assam legislature to ensure his re-election, 86-year-old Dr Singh retired from the Rajya Sabha.
Dr Singh, then finance minister in the P V Narasimha Rao government, had debuted in the House on October 1, 1991, from Assam and represented the state for five consecutive terms. He was the leader of the House during his 10 years as PM, and leader of the Opposition from 1998 to 2004.The former PM would now need to wait for the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, an ally of the Congress, to send him to the Rajya Sabha next month or until the next biennial elections in the Upper House in April 2020 when 54 MPs retire.
Five Rajya Sabha members from Tamil Nadu retire in July. The DMK, along with its allies, has the strength in the state legislature to get at least three elected to the Rajya Sabha. It has promised one seat to MDMK chief Vaiko.
However, sources said the DMK and the Congress have not had any discussions on the issue.
The Congress could also hope to send Dr Singh to the Upper House from Gujarat if elections to fill the two vacancies from the state take place together.
The vacancies are on account of two Bharatiya Janata Party Rajya Sabha members from Gujarat, Amit Anilchandra Shah and Smriti Zubin Irani, being elected to the Lok Sabha. Shah has debuted in the Lok Sabha from Gandhinagar while Irani is the Lok Sabha member from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.
The Congress’s numbers in the Gujarat assembly would ensure the party wins one of the two seats, the other going to the BJP, if elections to the two seats are held jointly.
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