US: Muslim congresswomen Omar and Tlaib retain seats in election

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Muslim-American congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib have retained their seats in the US House of Representatives during yesterday’s election.

Both women received more than 64 per cent of the votes in their respective districts in Minnesota and Michigan.

The pair became the first Muslim women to be elected to the US Congress in 2018.

Omar and Tlaib both fended off sole opponents in primary challenges, held in August this year, replicating their 2018 success when they faced a large pool of candidates.

Yesterday’s election was considered a formality for the pair who both represent strongholds of Democratic supporters.

However, Republican donors have thrown enormous sums of money at the campaigns of the progressive lawmakers’ election rivals.

Omar’s rival Lacy Johnson received at least $10 million, while Tlaib’s opponent David Dudenhoefer raised $1 million for his election campaign.

Tlaib termed the sums, which are staggeringly large amounts for relatively non-competitive election races, “racist money burning”, in an interview with local Detriot paper the Metro Times earlier this week.

Omar and Tlaib have both faced frequent attacks from President Donald Trump and his administration over their condemnation of the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians.

READ: Palestinian cobbler steps all over Trump

In August 2019, the pair were denied entry to Israel, reportedly at Trump’s urging, for an organised tour of Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.

At the time, Omar and Tlaib criticised the Israeli decision and called on fellow Congress members to visit the occupied Palestinian territories to see the “cruel reality of the occupation”, while they cannot.

Observers claimed the pair were denied entry over their support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, a non-violent Palestinian led global initiative to protest Israel’s military occupation.

Meanwhile, in July 2019, the pair were subjected to a barrage of racist tweets by Trump calling on them to “go back” to their “broken” countries, despite both holding American citizenship.

Tlaib was born in the US, while Omar became a citizen after moving to America in 1995 as a refugee from war-torn Somalia.

Omar and Tlaib have also faced criticism from within their own Democratic party over their outspoken stances on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Tlaib, however, has pledged to continue advocating for Palestinian human rights despite facing pushback from members of her own party, Middle East Eye reported. In honour of her Palestinian heritage she wore a thobe to her swearing in ceremony in 2019.

Kamala Harris, Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s running mate, said their administration, if elected, would seek to reverse several of Trump’s policies on Palestine and the broader Middle East.

In an interview with Arab American News over the weekend, Harris pledged to reverse Trump’s decision to defund organisations delivering critical relief and aid to the Palestinians, seek to reopen the US consulate in East Jerusalem and re-establish the PLO mission in Washington.

The results of presidential election are expected to be confirmed later this week.

READ: Israeli officials hope Trump wins second term

Middle East Monitor

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