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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

Pramod Sawant sworn in as 11th Goa CM

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Mumbai : Vijai Sardesai from the Goa Forward Party and Sudin Dhavalikar from Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, both alliance partners, have been inducted as Deputy Chief Ministers, Union Minister of State for AYUSH Shripad Naik told reporters on the sidelines of the oath-taking ceremony at Raj Bhavan here.
Sawant, 45, was administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor Mridula Sinha at a formal ceremony held at the Raj Bhavan in the early hours of Tuesday.
Apart from Sawant and the two deputy Chief Ministers, nine other MLAs, all of them who were part of the previous BJP-led coalition cabinet headed by Parrikar, were also administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor and inducted as ministers in the state cabinet.
The Chief Minister said portfolios would be allotted to his ministers within eight days.
Sawant succeeds former Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who died on Sunday due to complications arising from advanced pancreatic cancer.
The new Chief Minister heads a coalition government which has the support of 12 MLAs from the BJP, three each from the Goa Forward and MGP, and two independent MLAs, taking the tally of the treasury benches to 20 in the 36-member state legislative assembly.
“Parrikar is not among us now and this responsibility has been given collectively to me by my party, alliance partners and independent MLAs. This is a big responsibility,” Sawant told reporters soon after he was sworn in.
“I am committed to the development of Goa and to take forward the teachings of former Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar with a positive outlook,” Sawant also said, adding that he would focus on completing all infrastructure related projects started by his predecessor.
He was sworn in after a marathon session of hectic negotiations anchored by Union Minister Nitin Gadkari and BJP national president Amit Shah, who over a series of meetings, spanning more than 24 hours, with legislators from regional parties and independent MLAs forged a coalition together.

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2008 Mumbai attacks one of the ‘most notorious’ terrorist attacks: China

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Mumbai/Beijing: In a rare acknowledgment, China described the 2008 Mumbai attacks carried out by Pakistan-based LeT terror outfit as one of “the most notorious terrorist attacks”.
In a white paper on its massive crackdown against terrorists in the restive Xianjiang province, China said the global spread of terrorism and extremism over the years had inflicted agony on humanity.
The paper described the Mumbai terror attacks as one of “the most notorious terrorist attacks”, adding that the “global spread of terrorism and extremism over the years has inflicted agony on humanity”.
The release of the paper, “The Fight Against Terrorism and Extremism and Human Rights Protection in Xinjiang”, interestingly coincided with Pakistan foreign minister’s Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s visit to China.
Throughout the world, terrorism and extremism gravely threaten peace and development, and endanger the life and property of individuals, said the white paper released by China’s State Council Information Office.
The paper came days after China for the fourth time blocked a bid in the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday to designate Pakistan-based chief of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror group Masood Azhar as a “global terrorist” by putting a technical hold on the proposal, a move India termed as disappointing.
The JeM has claimed responsibility for the February 14 Pulwama attack that left 40 CRPF personnel dead and escalated tensions between India and Pakistan.
“Striking aggressively at terrorism and furthering the de-radicalisation effort is the common responsibility of the international community and essential to the protection of human rights,” it said.
China opposes all forms of terrorism and extremism, and opposes double standards on fighting terrorism, said the white paper, adding that Beijing opposes linking terrorism and extremism with specific countries, ethnic groups or religions.
China advocates comprehensive measures to address both the symptoms and the root causes, with the dual purposes of striking at terrorist activities and eliminating poverty, so that there will be no room for terrorism to breed, it said.

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Pak did not do a favour by returning Abhinandan, says Sitharaman

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Mumbai: Pakistan has shown the statements of such people and opposition leaders on their television channels, increasing TRP, the minister said.

“It is these people who did not want (the country) to buy Rafale, because arrival of these will give strength to our forces,” she said, addressing a gathering in Kolkata on ‘Ensuring India’s National Security’ organised by the Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation.

India has given a message to the world after the Balakot air strike by not bowing to Pakistan’s nuclear blackmail, the minister said.

 

On February 26, the IAF conduct air strikes in Pakistan’s Balakot targeting Jaish-e-Mohammed terror camps. The strikes came after a suicide bomber from the terror group on February 14 rammed an explosive-laden vehicle into a CRPF bus, killing 40 personnel, in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district.

Modi did what former prime minister Manmohan Singh did not do after the Mumbai attacks on November 26, 2008, possibly because of Pakistan’s continued propaganda that “it is a nuclear power like India, and we should not forget that before doing anything against them”, she said.

“‘Chowkidar’ gave Pakistan the right answer,” she said.

The defence minister said though there is no direct war being waged between India and Pakistan, there were ceasefire violations by the neighbouring country, and non-state actors with the support of Pakistan, indulge in attacks like that in Pulwama.

Many were given training for suicide attacks at Balakot. There was intelligence on this development and that there will be many more Pulwama-like attacks in the coming days, she said.

“So, not to wage war but to neutralise the terrorists at their training camps. They were eliminated (at Balakot),” she said, adding, India did what Pakistan ought to have done.

Sitharaman said Pakistan claims it is a victim of terrorism, but itself trains and sends them to India.

“Why Pakistan does not take action against terrors groups and terrorists being nurtured and trained on its soil if it is a victim?” she asked.

The minister said that after the Pulwama attack, evidence was given to Pakistan, but it did not act.

Noting that the Jaish-e-Mohammed itself claimed responsibility for the strike, she said, “What more proof does it (Pakistan) want?”

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