Rashida Tlaib, the Democratic representative-elect from Michigan, has announced she will wear a traditional Palestinian thobe to her official swearing-in ceremony to US Congress next month.
“Sneak peek: This is what I am wearing when I am sworn into Congress. #PalestinianThobe #ForMyYama,” Tlaib wrote in an Instagram post on Friday. Yama means mother in Arabic.
A thobe is a traditional ankle-length garment worn across the Arab world and in some parts of Africa. Palestinian thobes are known for their red embroidered patterns. However, each city in historical Palestine traditionally has its own unique style.
Tlaib is the first Palestinian American woman to serve in US Congress. Along with Somali American Ilhan Omar, the two became the first Muslim women elected to Congress last November.
Tlaib took Michigan’s 13th congressional district in a race in which she was the sole major party candidate.
Omar won Minnesota’s strongly Democratic fifth congressional district, replacing the first Muslim congressman, Keith Ellison, who vacated his seat to run in the state’s attorney general race.
Tlaib, 42, was born in Detroit to Palestinian immigrant parents. Her mother is from the village of Beit Ur al-Fauqa near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, and her father is from Beit Hanina, in occupied East Jerusalem.
She made history in 2008 by winning a seat in Michigan’s legislature, becoming the first Muslim woman to do so.
Her campaign platform included pledges to secure a $15 minimum wage, preventing cuts to welfare programmes such as Medicare and Social Security, as well as stopping tax relief to large corporations.
Earlier this month Tlaib told The Intercept that she plans to lead a congressional delegation to the Israeli-occupied West Bank, breaking from traditional trips to Israel for newly elected members taking place for decades, sponsored by the pro-Israel lobby group American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
She said she hopes to offer her fellow freshmen members of Congress an alternative introduction to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
According to The Intercept, her group will focus on issues such as Israel’s detention of Palestinian children, education, access to clean water, and poverty.