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US elections 2020: Muslim American candidates who made history

In state legislatures across the country, Muslim Americans won seats and broke barriers
Several prominent Muslim Americans made strides in House of Representatives and won seats in state legislatures (Mohamed Elasaar)

While all eyes are on the US presidential election and the votes being counted, prominent Muslim Americans have been making strides in the House of Representatives and winning seats in state legislatures. 

Elections in the US are also taking place for the Senate, House of Representatives and local state assemblies, as well as the presidential election. 

MEE takes a look at some of the candidates who made history:

Mauree Turner, elected to Oklahoma's State House of Representatives

Turner, 27, won their race for Oklahoma's House of Representatives for District 88 on Tuesday, becoming the first openly nonbinary and Muslim state lawmaker in the US. 

Turner, who uses they/she pronouns, beat Republican opponent Kelly Barlean with 71 percent of the vote, and  focused their campaign on representation for queer and Muslim communities, as well as the intersection of both. 

The Democrat is a criminal justice reform activist and community organiser, and according to the candidate's campaign, works towards fighting for and maintaining the civil liberties for everyone who enters America. 

In a tweet, Turner said they were grateful for being granted the opportunity.

"I have a lot of feelings about tonight. But overall, I’m grateful for HD88 granting me this opportunity."

Fady Qaddoura, elected Indiana state senator 

Fady Qaddoura, a 44-year-old Democrat who is of Palestinian origin, became the first Muslim state senator in Indiana's history on Tuesday, defeating rival John Ruckelshaus by 52 percent to 48 percent. 

Qaddoura announced his victory in a statement posted to Facebook, where he expressed joy and promised to work hard.

"We did it! Only in America can someone immigrate to this country, work hard, and earn the trust of tens and thousands of voters to become the first Muslim state senator in Indiana’s history," he said.

"I will work hard everyday to represent all Hoosiers - including the ones who did not vote for me."

As state senator, Qaddoura says he will focus his efforts on investing in education, health care, small businesses and financial stability. 

Madinah Wilson-Alton, elected to Delaware's House of Representatives

Democrat Madinah Wilson-Alton was elected Delaware’s first Muslim legislator, winning 71 percent of the vote. 

In her campaign, Wilson-Alton highlighted that reform in the education funding system is needed to ensure that all children have access to quality education.

She also said that she wants to end corporate welfare, move to 100 percent renewable energy sources by 2050 and create a progressive taxation system for people in Delaware. 

Iman Jodeh, elected to Colorado's House of Representatives 

Jodeh, a first-generation American of Palestinian origin, was elected to the Colorado House of Representatives, making her the first Muslim legislator in the state’s history. 

The activist and educator frequently advocates for the Muslim community in the state. 

Jodeh announced her win in a tweet and expressed how proud she was to be able to represent her district's communities.  

“We did it! I ran to make the American dream a reality for everyone. I am a proud Muslim Palestinian American and first-generation American. And I am proud to be able to represent the communities and the people of HD41 in the Colorado state legislature. Now, let’s get to work,” she said.

Samba Baldeh, elected to Wisconsin's House of Representatives

Samba Baldeh won the 48th Assembly District, making him the first Muslim in Wisconsin's state legislature. 

Baldeh defeated Republican Samuel Anderson and was declared the winner with 80 percent of the vote. 

He has spoken openly about his childhood in The Gambia, where he spent most of his days tending livestock and helping his nomadic parents. 

Baldeh's campaign states that the main issues he is prioritising are health-care access, climate change and building a stronger economy. Other issues include criminal justice reform, women’s rights, housing and education. 

Zohran Kwame Mamdani, elected to New York State Assembly

Mamdani, an Indian-Ugandan New Yorker, ran for election to the New York State Assembly to represent District 36 and won on Tuesday.

In his campaign, Mamdani, 29, said that he ran to ensure rights for health care, housing, child care and political power for everyone.

"I am running for State Assembly because it’s time to guarantee housing to all New Yorkers as a right, regardless of ability to pay."

Mamdani will represent Astoria, a diverse neighborhood in Queens. He says that one of his biggest aims is to make housing affordable for residents. 

"Our housing is unaffordable and our bills are unpayable. The reason is that big landlords and corporations have too much power, and tenants and workers don’t have enough. I want to help our neighbours take their power back," he said. 

Nida Allam, North Carolina county commission

Nida Allam, 26, became the first Muslim woman to be elected to her county commission in North Carolina. 

Allam previously worked on Bernie Sanders’ campaign in 2016 and said she wanted to carry progressive values to Durham, North Carolina. 

Allam outlines her main priorities as fighting for accountability, high-quality education and creating inclusive communities. 

Abraham Aiyash, elected to Michigan's House of Representatives

Aiyash, a Democrat of Yemeni-American origin, was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives and will assume office in January 2021 to represent District 4. 

Last month, Aiyash told MEE that his key focus was to bring diversity and inclusion into the political process, as well as focus on domestic issues.

"Health care is going to impact us - education policy, environmental policy, too," Aiyash said.

"Hamtramck, Detroit and Dearborn have the most polluted areas of the state. They [Yemeni Americans] are not fixated only on what's happening in Yemen. They're very much invested in what happens in our local communities on these issues."

In his campaign, he said that his parents emigrated from Yemen and built a middle-class family in the district, which taught them the value of hard work, giving back and commitment to service.

"We need collaborative and progressive leadership in Lansing. We can reimagine a politics of the possible if we're willing to engage ordinary citizens in our democracy," his campaign statement said. 

Aiyash has also been endorsed by Bernie Sanders.

Omar Fateh, elected to Minnesota's Senate 

Omar Fateh, who is of Somali descent, was elected to serve in the Minnesota State Senate for District 62. He defeated Republican candidate Bruce Lundeen, garnering 89 percent of the votes. 

Fateh developed his campaign and support after working for the city of Minneapolis as a community specialist, where he helped improve the city’s outreach to East African communities.