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In a first, 2 Muslim women elected to US Congress

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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.


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National

NIA raids locations in western UP, Punjab over ISIS-inspired module probe

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New Delhi:The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Thursday morning conducted raids at several places in western Uttar Pradesh and Punjab in connection with the investigation into a suspected ISIS-inspired module. A case was recently registered against the suspected module.

Sources said that the police officials detained two persons for questioning from Athsaini village in Garhmukteshwar tehsil. They were being interrogated by the police till last report came in.

The agency rounded up a 50-year-old resident of Bulandshahr, who runs a general store and has spent over 25 years in Saudi Arabia.

 

Notably, this is the third time that raids have been conducted by the NIA in Hapur area of Uttar Pradesh while the searches in Amroha have been carried out for the second time.

Several teams of the counter-terror probe agency launched the searches simultaneously in Uttar Pradesh’s Amroha and Bulandshahr besides Punjab’s Ludhiana, and several places early in the day, a senior NIA official said.

The raids that were still underway, kicked off after the NIA got leads from those arrested during their interrogation. The agency is looking into the role of a foreign mastermind behind the new module.

The action comes in the wake of a case it registered on December 20 under several sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Explosive Substances Act and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

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Armed robbers loot passengers onboard Jammu-Delhi Duronto Express

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New Delhi: Unidentified assailants, carrying guns and sharp-edged weapons, barged inside two coaches of Jammu-Delhi Duronto Express and looted the passengers on Thursday morning.

A group of about seven to ten armed assailants robbed passengers onboard B3 and B7 coaches. The incident took place in the early morning hours in Badli station, on the outskirts of Delhi.

The incident came to light after a passenger filed a complaint through the railways’ complaints portal. Passenger Ashwani Kumar, in his complaint, claimed that passengers of B3 and B7 coaches of the train were targeted by the armed men as it neared the Delhi Sarai Rohilla station.

 

“As train number 12266, which stops only at its source and destination stations, was approaching the Delhi station, stopped at around 3:30 am awaiting signal, seven to 10 miscreants entered coaches B3 and B7 of the train,” Kumar said.

The miscreants snatched mobiles, gold jewellery, cash and other valuable items from multiple passengers. The entire robbery took place within 10 to 15 minutes.
A case has been filed.

Railway Protection Force (RPF) has initial leads in the case and action will be taken against culprits, said the Chief Public Relation Officer (CPRO) Northern Railways.

“The Railway Protection Force (RPF) has initial leads in the matter. The culprits will be nabbed soon and stern action will be taken against them,” a Northern Railway spokesperson said.

Kumar later added that the passengers tried to reach the train attendant and TT after the incident and found them after 20 minutes. “The irony is that neither staff nor security personnel were available there at the time of the mishap,” the passenger claimed.

The complainant claimed that when he could not find the TT or the attendant, he contacted the Delhi Police after which an FIR was registered at the destination station.

“… The attendant told us that there was no security personnel available in the train. We are not safe even in AC coaches and imagine the security in sleeper class and general coaches where passengers enter the train even without tickets… ,” Kumar wrote in his complaint.

Several persons took to social media questioning rail security and safety of passengers again with this incident.

The Jammu Tawi-Delhi Sarai Rohilla Express (Train no 12266) has a travel time of 9 hours with one halt at Ludhiana.

The Duronto Expresses are one of the fastest trains in India. It has only AC coaches.

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SC partially strikes down stringent rules on Maharashtra dance bars

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday set aside certain provisions of a law imposing restrictions on the licensing and functioning of dance bars in Maharashtra.

A bench headed by Justice A K Sikri quashed certain provisions of the Maharashtra Prohibition of Obscene Dance in Hotels, Restaurants and Bar Rooms and Protection of Dignity of Women (Working therein) Act, 2016.

The top court allowed orchestra and added that tips can be given but showering of cash and coins is not allowed inside bars.

 

SC upheld the condition of fixed timings of dance bars in Maharashtra from 6 pm to 11.30 pm.

Supreme Court said, “There cannot be a total prohibition on dance bars. No licence has been granted by Maharashtra since 2005. There may be regulations but that should not amount to a total prohibition.”

The court quashed conditions of Maharashtra government of putting CCTV cameras in dance bars of Mumbai, giving licence to people of good character as ‘vague’.
It also repealed a rule that segregated dancing stage from the bar area where drinks are served.

The Court has also struck down a condition by which dance bars should be 1 km away from educational and religious places.

The top court has upheld a rule of Maharashtra government by which working women should have a contract so they can’t be exploited, however, quashed a rule of monthly salary for bar dancers.

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