The victory of Rashida Tlaib in the Detroit primary

At a time of Islamophobic tensions, Tlaib’s election win is a reassuring sign for Arab Americans and Muslim Americans.
Sunday 12/08/2018
Fadwa Tlaib, an aunt of Rashida Tlaib points to a young Rashida in a 1987 picture with her mother Fatima and brother Nader at the family house in the West Bank village of Beit Ur al-Foqa. (AP)
Fadwa Tlaib, an aunt of Rashida Tlaib points to a young Rashida in a 1987 picture with her mother Fatima and brother Nader at the family house in the West Bank village of Beit Ur al-Foqa. (AP)

Rashida Tlaib, a 42-year-old Arab-American activist, has won the Democratic Party primary in Detroit, Michigan, for a seat in the US House of Representatives. She should clinch that seat in the November midterm elections because she is running virtually unchallenged.

Regardless of the candidate’s political leanings, Tlaib’s win is a source of pride for Americans of Arab origin. More specifically, it is a source of encouragement to the scores of Arab-American and Muslim-American candidates running for office in the United States this year.

At a time of Islamophobic tensions, Tlaib’s election win is a reassuring sign for Arab Americans and Muslim Americans. They can aspire to being accepted as full-fledged members of American society as well as legitimate players in its democratic system.

Sally Howell, director of the Centre for Arab American Studies at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, told Agence France-Presse: “She was not running as a Muslim per se but as someone from south-west Detroit… who happens to be a Muslim. But her campaign was definitely picked up and championed by the Muslim community, which feels greatly maligned.”

Tlaib’s personal and political background projects an image of computability between the Muslim faith and modernity contrary to all the misleading stereotypes.

Her victory is also a source of pride in the Palestinian territories from where her family hails.

The Arab America website, which specialises in Arab-American issues, stated: “Tlaib’s strength and passion come from her strong connection with her family background. Specifically, her mother is from Beit Ur al-Fauqa, right outside Ramallah, and her father from Beit Hanina, a Palestinian neighbourhood in East Jerusalem.”

Her election can send a positive signal to the Arab world about US politics at a time of widely shared misgivings about Washington’s Middle East policies.

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