This year’s US state and local elections saw historic firsts for Muslim women in the country, from Maine and Virginia all the way to Minnesota.
In spite of Trump’s – and many others’ – increasingly racist rhetoric, some of which has been aimed at women of colour serving in Congress, including Representative Ilhan Omar, democrat of Minnesota, and member of congress Rashia Tlaib, the sheer amount of victories for Muslims this season is record-breaking.
In Virginia, Democrat Ghazala Hashmi was elected to the State Senate, becoming the first to do so in the state’s history. Democrat Abrar Omeish, 24, joins Hashmi in becoming one of the first Muslim women – and in her case, the youngest – to hold elected office in Virginia’s history, subsequently also becoming a member-at-large on the Fairfax County School Board.
Today we sent a message that the status quo is no longer accepted. Thank you all for your support and passion in helping me become the next state Senator for Virginia’s 10th District! I couldn’t be more honored to be apart of the change to come for Virginia.— Ghazala Hashmi (@Hashmi4Va) November 6, 2019
Somali-American Nadia Mohamad, 23, also became the first Muslim and Somali woman to be elected to the city council in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, after having fled conflict in Somalia as a young girl.
Another Somali-American, Democrat Safiya Khalid, 23, who is a refugee as well, also made history in being elected to the Lewiston City Council. Her journey to victory, however, was marked by smear campaigns and hate speech online that drove her to delete her Facebook and bring her campaign solely to the streets - a reminder of how minorities are treated especially when they try getting their voices heard.
Not only was it a ground-breaking season for Muslim women, but for refugees too. In Syracuse, New York, a South Sudanese man who had fled civil war in his country, Chol Majok, ran unchallenged and was elected to public office – a first for a refugee in the city.
In addition to the above, also the first Libyan American elected in US history!— Abrar Omeish (@AbrarOmeish) November 6, 2019
Most of the elected took to social media in celebration of their victories, relishing in the fact that their achievements happened in spite of the cacophony of Islamophobic and xenophobic voices trying to stop them.