Here in America, we’re still decompressing from one of the liveliest mid-term elections in memory. My apologies if you were feeling happy to not think of politics for a bit and then this email drops into your box!
I’m not very politically sophisticated so when I read that two Muslim women had been elected to the U.S. House, my reasoned and philosophical response was, “Hey, that’s cool!” And I stand by that!
Rashida Tlaib is a mother of two and the oldest child of Palestinian parents. She was born and raised in Detroit. She’s been serving politically in Michigan since 2004.
Ilhan Omar was born in Somalia. When she was ten her family fled the civil war to a refugee camp in Kenya then to the US when she was fourteen. At seventeen, Omar became a US citizen. She served in various capacities before being elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in 2016.
Since being female and Muslim are only two facets of who these women are, we shouldn’t tokenize them or expect them to speak for all Muslims. Their constituents put them in power based on their track records and in hopes of what they will accomplish in office.
I might not share all of their political views or religious beliefs but I think they have something to say and that we’d be wise to give consideration to their voice. And I’m happy to live in a place where things like this can happen and where we now have a Congress that looks a little bit more like the country. (Tweet this.)
What do you think? Is it a good thing that Michigan and Minnesota put Muslim women in the House? Does this raise concerns for you? Please weigh in below.
27 Responses to Muslims in the House! And They’re Girls!
I live in a Muslim island in the Philippines. I am an American citizen. If these women truly support democracy and freedom of religion for all, then I am ok with them serving our country. I know there are many sects within Islam and not all adhere to a radical agenda.
I agree, Ramona. I have no idea if they’ll be good legislators or not. For that matter, I don’t know if they’re locally thought of as good Muslims or not. You’re right that not all Muslims adhere to a radical agenda.
Thank you for reading Muslim Connect and taking the time to comment.
While I truly loves Muslims, I do not agree with their beliefs. Many politicians say their beliefs don’t mix with policies, but yes, they do. I do not want to see American values changed into those of Islam.
Ama, Thank you for reading Muslim Connect and taking the time to share your thoughts. I appreciate that. If you’d like, I’d love to hear what “American values” you would not want to be “changed into those of Islam.” I’d be interested in learning how you think about that. Thank you.
I think this is GREAT. I’d like to see more females and more diversity in our national and state legislative bodies. I think we’d possibly see more getting accomplished and more cooperation.
Still too many out of touch old white males in the US Senate. I’d like to see the same thing happening there.
Hey John, Thank you for reading Muslim Connect and sharing your opinion. Luckily for you, I’m pretty sure no “old white males in the US Senate” subscribe to Muslim Connect!
As I watch the news, I am concerned that “old white males” get such a bad rap simply because they are old and they are Caucasian and they are male. They didn’t choose to be male or Caucasian. And we all grow old. I am female, but I vote for people based on their political agenda, not on their age or sex or skin color. If an elected official is “out of touch” with their constituent base, then they need to be replaced by someone who will listen and work towards the good of their constituents- regardless of their sex, age or skin color. I, too, would like to see more diversity in our elected officials. As someone who loves Jesus and has served him in 4 different countries including places in Southeast Asia and Africa, and like to think that I am open to diversity. But I happen to be married to a 60 year old white guy, so does that automatically disqualify him from running for public office 🙂 I’m not trying to be divisive or argumentative on this subject, just wondering if this is how Jesus views old white guys. And yes, I also welcome the two new congresswomen to the house.
Hey Barb, As an old white guy myself, I appreciate your thoughts! Thank you for reading Muslim Connect and offering some insightful thoughts.
I would urge caution here. There seems to be support for them because they are women and Muslims. We are not electing ‘gender like mine’ nor ‘how cool they are Muslim.” We are electing in any part of the country people who will uphold the constitution and reflect our political views. All voters should look first to the candidate’s political views and track record and NOT to something as simplistic as gender and diversity. This ‘how wonderful’ view makes for bad politics and ultimately weakens democracy.
Hey Joe, Thank you for reading Muslim Connect and taking valuable time to respond. As I mentioned in the blog above I assume, “Their constituents put them in power based on their track records and in hopes of what they will accomplish in office.” I happen to think it’s cool that Muslim women can build sufficient experience and support to reach Congress.
Thanks, again for your thoughts.
I am concerned about them being Muslims because I do not want sharia law in the United States. Being in a legislative position where laws are made puts them in a place to attempt to do so. The Somalian refugee woman I am very happy to see. Finally someone can speak to the nation from a first hand refugee perspective and better explain what a refugee is and the process they go through, and let the nation see that certain fearmongers are wrong about all asylum seekers are not gangster, murderers or other kind of violent dangerous criminals.
Linda, Thank you for reading Muslim Connect and writing in. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts.
You mentioned your concern regarding sharia. Two things: I think the numbers on a national level massively argue against any threat of sharia. Secondly, I don’t know these women, but my guess is that they have little or no desire to see shari imposed, particularly the one who doesn’t cover!
I agree that it could be helpful to have someone with first hand experience lobbying for refugees and providing a counter example to some of the current narrative.
I agree that this is good news and that there first duty is to make the best decisions for their constituencies. However, their perspective will help broaden the understanding of the House. While we don’t want to elect merely for gender, religion, or race, I’m not sure a House full of 60 year old white guys could truly understanding our complex fabric.
Hey Roger, Thank you for reading Muslim Connect and responding. It’s a balance, isn’t it?
I SO agree with you, Roger.
Good point re: cover
Shane, you’re bringing it home for me. I gladly voted for Rashida. She has an amazing track record of consistently fighting for the oppressed and underdogs in my community. Moreover, she actually walks the talk. Just last month she came to my local neighborhood association meeting – and was actually kind, personable, listening, and respectful!
FWIW – I wish I could say the same for respectability of the well known self-identified Christian candidates at my former Metro Detroit address. One male representative who identifies as Christian, introduced me to his wife as his “first wife”! (implying either promiscuity or affair). On another occasion asked, if I was “voting for the man or woman” for president – as if their reproductive organs was what I was electing. ?
Hey Samir, welcome to the conversation. I’m glad to hear your thoughts as someone who actually voted for Rashida. Thank you for weighing in.
Samir, thanks so much for this first person insight.
As one who advocates for refugees, I am delighted that Ms Omar was elected. Her story should offer hope to the hundreds of thousands who feel that their dreams have been extinguished. Traditionally, women have been under represented in congress and it is good to see the pendulum swinging ever so slightly the other way. I would never vote for nor disqualify a candidate based solely on their gender or religion. I hope that both of these women distinguish themselves as great Americans.
I am quite happy to see some diversity and equality in the government.
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Very gratifying to see they came with political experience. Love it. As we say – its not their first rodeo. They know what they have gotten themselves into and we must pray that our national motto = In God We Trust = leads the way.
I’m so excited for these women to be elected and to represent two severely underrepresented groups in our government—women and religious minorities. I’m also excited that they look very different for each other, which will hopefully help educate the public more that Muslims are not a homogeneous group!
Someone elected to public office who pledges alliegence to the American flag, stands for our national anthem, swears to uphold the US Constitution and doesn’t defraud her constituents, doesn’t steal from taxpayers or play favorites legislatively; who is willing to protect the innocent, secure our borders and reduce spending at every opportunity is a good Representtive in my book. Unfortunately, in any election, half or more of the candidates fail to meet my standard on any number of these requirements regardless of gender, religion, ethnicity, education or background.
I would vote for a Muslim woman who met these fundamentals of American nationalism.
Shane, I have hesitated to reply to this as I did not want to give a knee jerk reaction.
I am agreeing with the previous poster who said, “There seems to be support for them because they are women and Muslims. We are not electing ‘gender like mine’ nor ‘how cool they are Muslim.” ” When I vote, I try to vote for those candidates who most hold to God’s principles.
My first reaction was to the term “Palestinian”. There is not now nor has there ever been a state/nation of Palestine. (I could expound further but time and space do not allow.) I understand the term is widely misused but it still bothers me. It bothered me even more when Ms Tlaib wrapped in the “Palestinian” flag at her victory party. Nor is she a supporter of Israel. Her tone changed to the point that even J Street removed their endorsement of her during her campaign. She supports the deconstruction of the state of Israel …. Never mind that she also supports Medicare for all and $15 minimum wage. 😉
Ms Omar supports BDS. (Boycott, divest, and sanction re:Israel and the West Bank) During her campaign she said she did not but since being elected she has stated she does. Also in 2017, as a legislator in her state, she argued in favor of FGM (female genital mutilation).
Since neither is a friend of Israel …. and God is not done with Israel … and other troubling positions my response is, “No, I am not happy to see them in the house.”
Have a blessed day! May you see God’s fingerprints in it. …. and do something fun!