Tlaib has said she can bring 'unique perspective' on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (MEE/Ali Harb)
DETROIT, United States – Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian American and former Michigan state representative, won the Democratic nomination for Congress in a Detroit-based district on Tuesday.
With no Republican candidate in the race, Tlaib will almost certainly become the first Muslim woman in Congress after the general election takes place in November.
The safe Democratic seat had been held by veteran lawmaker John Conyers since 1965. He resigned earlier this year after sexual harassment allegations against him.
"She's not your typical politician," Tlaib supporter Isra Daraiseh said of the soon-to-be congresswoman. "She says what she means and she does what she says."
Daraiseh also called Tlaib a role model because of her dedication and "authenticity".
The mother-of-two ran a progressive anti-establishment campaign with a focus on environmental protections and opposing tax cuts for big corporations. But she has not shied away from the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
Dozens of Tlaib's supporters gathered at a Detroit venue on Tuesday, erupting in frantic cheers with each update on the results that showed their candidate in the lead, as if their favourite football team just scored a goal.
Tlaib, the oldest of 14 children, told MEE back in March that while growing up in Detroit, she saw parallels between the civil rights movement in the US and the Palestinians' struggle for justice.
The former state legislator added that she hopes to bring a "unique perspective" by advocating for equal rights for both Palestinians and Israelis. She said she is not afraid to stand up to "right-wing extremists" who attack anyone critical of Israel's policies.
"I have been very clear to everyone who has asked about this issue that I see everything through a human rights lens," Tlaib said.
Despite Tlaib's victory, Abdul El-Sayed, who was looking to become Michigan's first Muslim governor, lost the Democratic primary to establishment-backed former state senator Gretchen Whitmer.
El-Sayed, who was endorsed by former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, won more than 34 percent of the votes in the statewide race. His candidacy defied public opinion polls that had him far behind in the race.