The momentum is not stopping. Not only are Muslims but Muslim women in particular here to stay. 2019 is the year of the Muslim woman. Earlier this we saw the first two Muslim women, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, be sworn into Congress in the United States and now they are followed by one more.
Muslim Democrats took control of all three branches of government in Virginia last week for the first time in a generation. Winning majorities in the House and Senate. One of those winning leaders was Ghazala Hashmi, who unseated an incumbent Republican to become the first Muslim-American woman elected to Virginia’s state Senate.
“I realized I had a choice. I could remain unheard, unseen, and unrepresented; or, I could speak out, be visible, and dare to claim for myself and other marginalized communities the right to full participation in our democracy,” Hashmi said in an article she shared on the Medium.
Virginia’s elections received attention nationwide and visit from politicians including Vice President Mike Pence and former Vice President Joe Biden.
Hashmi said she knew she wanted to run for office when minorities felt threated especially during President Donald Trump’s proposed Muslim ban.
“I had a moment of panic, where I had to wonder whether after living here nearly 50 years … whether I had a home anymore, whether I was welcome here,” Hashmi told CBS. “And I had to prove that answer, not just for myself, but for so many people who feel marginalized. And Tuesday’s election was a sign that we absolutely embrace diversity in this country.”
Hashmi emphasized her victory wasn’t just against Trump but to focus on the voters’ issues and representation.
Three other Muslim women made history in Virginia last Tuesday including Abrar Omeish, Lisa Zargarpur and Buta Biberaj.
Omeish obtained one of three vacant seats on the Fairfax County School Board, Zargarpur was elected to the Prince William County School Board and Biberaj defeated Republican incumbent Nicole Wittmann to become Loudoun County’s new commonwealth’s attorney.
Celebrating her win, Omeish said she was the youngest woman at age twenty-four and the first Libyan American to hold elected office in Virginia’s history.
In Maine, another Muslim woman made history as one of the youngest individuals to ever be elected to her council and as the first Somali American to do so. Twenty-three-year-old Safiya Khalid who was elected to the city council of Lewiston.
“What I received here in Lewiston, my family and I in 2006, I want to open that to all people in Lewiston and to encourage young people to live and work in Lewiston and that means building a vibrant community for all of us,” Khalid told the Guardian.