Women share pictures of their thobes after Rashida Tlaib is sworn in as first Muslim woman in Congress

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Member-elect Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) plays with her children during the 116th Congress and swearing-in ceremony on the floor of the US House of Representatives on January 3, 2019 in Washington,DC. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP)
Member-elect Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) plays with her children during the 116th Congress and swearing-in ceremony on the floor of the US House of Representatives on January 3, 2019 in Washington,DC. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

Rashida Tlaib made history Thursday at the 116th Congress swearing-in ceremony, becoming one of the first Muslim women in Congress, alongside Ilan Omar. The democrat from Michigan decided to wear traditional Palestinian clothing and be sworn in on a Quran — both to celebrate her story, and the story of America.

“Show everyone who you are, your heritage, and what your stand for,” Tlaib wrote in an op-ed for Elle on Thursday. “We should embrace who we are and not be shamed for it.” To help highlight her own Palestinian-American path, Tlaib wore a “thobe” — an Arab garment similar to a robe.

“Throughout my career in public service, the residents I have had the privilege of fighting for have embraced who I am, especially my Palestinian roots,” she wrote. “This is what I want to bring to the United States Congress, an unapologetic display of the fabric of the people in this country. This is why I decided to wear a thobe when I am sworn into the 116th Congress.”

Tlaib, also chose to use Thomas Jefferson’s copy of the Quran to take the oath of office. The Islamic text owned by the former president dates back to 1734, according to the Detroit Free Press. “It’s important to me because a lot of Americans have this kind of feeling that Islam is somehow foreign to American history,” Tlaib told the Detroit paper. “Muslims were there at the beginning… Some of our founding fathers knew more about Islam than some members of Congress now.”

Tlaib, who will represent Michigan’s 13th district in the U.S. House of Representatives, is the daughter of immigrant parents. Her mother never let her forget their “roots and culture.”

“As a young girl, I watched my mother hand stitch thobes while sitting on the floor with a lamp at her side. She would make the small designs of flowers and different shapes,” Tlaib said. “Just thinking about it brings up so many memories of my mother and how proud she was of being Palestinian.”

Rashida Tlaib’s family celebrated their heritage growing up in America. (Photo Credit: Rashida Tlaib)
Rashida Tlaib’s family celebrated their heritage growing up in America. (Photo Credit: Rashida Tlaib)
Rashida Tlaib’s family celebrated their heritage growing up in America. (Photo Credit: Rashida Tlaib)
Rashida Tlaib’s family celebrated their heritage growing up in America. (Photo Credit: Rashida Tlaib)

“My mother knows struggle and has taught me how to lead with compassion, the compassion that should be required for every representative on every level of government.”

Now Tlaib is calling for supporters to share pictures of their thobes with the hashtag #tweetyourthobe on January 3. “Too often in this country, recently and throughout history, groups of people have been marginalized, harmed, and even killed for being different,” she tweeted. “This must change, and we can change this together.”

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