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Rashida Tlaib set to become first Muslim woman in US Congress

Democratic politician from Michigan will run unopposed in a special election scheduled for November.

Rashida Tliab

Rashida Tliab is set to become the first Muslim woman elected to the US House of Representatives after comfortably winning a Democratic primary election in the state of Michigan.

The 42-year-old won Michigan's 13th congressional district on Wednesday by securing 33.6 percent of the vote, compared to 28.5 percent for her nearest rival Brenda Jones, and 14.5 percent for Bill Wild, the Detroit Free Press reported.

No Republicans or-third party candidates entered the primary, meaning Tlaib will run unopposed in a special election scheduled for November.

The vote will therefore likely result in Tlaib replacing Democrat John Conyers, who resigned from office last year citing health reasons amid charges of sexual harassment, in the House of Representatives.

"Thank you so much for making this unbelievable moment possible. I am at a loss for words. I cannot wait to serve you in Congress," she wrote on Twitter.

If elected, Tlaib will become the second Muslim to serve in the US House of Representatives this year, alongside Democratic Represenative Andre Carson of Indiana.

Keith Ellison of Minnesota is the first Muslim elected to Congress in 2006. He is currently running for attorney general in his home state.  

Anti-Muslim rhetoric

Tlaib, who is of Palestinian descent, told ABC news earlier this week her decision to run was prompted by increasing attacks against American-Muslims and immigrants since the election of US President Donald Trump.

A study from the Council on American-Islamic Relations reported a 15-percent increase in Islamophobic-related crimes in the United States last year.

"I didn't run because my election would be historic. I ran because of injustices and because of my boys, who are questioning their [Muslim] identity and whether they belong," Tlaib said.

"When you see a Palestinian person with your name and faith succeed, it shows [the government] can ban us from coming into the country, but not from getting elected.

"Showing people it can be done would be a victory to my family."

The 2018 mid-term elections have seen a record number of Muslims running for political office since the September 11, 2001 attacks, according to Jetpac, an organisation helping Muslim-Americans run for political office.

Despite increased anti-Muslim rhetoric since Trump's 2016 election, as many as 90 Muslim candidates ran for political office this year.

Other Muslims running include Ilhan Omar in Minnesota and Sameena Mustafa in Illinois.

Meanwhile, Abdul El-Sayed, who was seeking the Democratic nomination for governor in Michigan, lost in the primary. 

The 33-year-old progressive underdog, who has rejected corporate money, has received endorsements from the Vermont senator and former presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders.


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