Rashida Tlaib to be sworn in on Thomas Jefferson’s Koran


Ms Tlaib poses with supporters on her first day in WashingtonImage copyright
Adam Shapiro via Reuters

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Ms Tlaib poses with supporters on her first day in Washington

A Michigan lawmaker is set to be sworn into office as a US congresswoman while holding a copy of a Koran once owned by former US President Thomas Jefferson.

Rashida Tlaib, who is of Palestinian heritage, is also expected to wear traditional Palestinian clothing during the swearing in ceremony.

Ms Tlaib and Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar will become the first-ever Muslim female members of Congress on Thursday.

She will also make history as the first Palestinian-American congresswoman.

In an interview with the Detroit Free Press, Ms Tlaib, 42, said: “My swearing in on the Koran is about me showing that the American people are made up of diverse backgrounds and we all have love of justice and freedom”.

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Ms Tlaib laughs as one of her children breaks into dabbing, a type of dance move, after she casts a vote for Speaker Pelosi

“It’s important to me because a lot of Americans have this kind of feeling that Islam is somehow foreign to American history,” she said.

“Muslims were there at the beginning… Some of our founding fathers knew more about Islam than some members of Congress now.”

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Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar holds her colleague Eric Swalwell’s child as voting for House Speaker continued

Ms Tlaib will use the Koran during the ceremonial swearing in at the House Speaker’s office on Thursday.

Although no text is required for the oath, many US lawmakers have traditionally held the Bible as they vowed to protect the US Constitution from “all enemies, foreign and domestic”.

Minnesota’s Keith Ellison held the same 1734 copy of Jefferson’s Koran when he was sworn in as the country’s first Muslim congressman 12 years ago. His decision was fiercely opposed at the time by some conservative Christian lawmakers.

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Mrs Tlaib’s uncle, who lives in the West Bank, shows a photo of his niece in her youth

Jefferson’s two-volume copy of the Koran, which was translated into English by George Sale in 1734, is currently housed in the US Library of Congress.

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Native American Congresswoman Deb Haaland is wearing a traditional Pueblo outfit

The text, which Jefferson sold to the Library after its contents were burned by the British in 1814, has been loaned to Ms Tlaib for the day.

New Mexico Democrat Deb Haaland, who is one of two first female Native American members of Congress, is also wearing her traditional clothing for the occasion.

According to the New York Times, she chose to wear traditional dress of the Pueblo tribe, including silver and turquoise jewellery and moccasins.

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Media captionIlhan Omar spoke to the BBC last year about becoming the first Somali-American lawmaker in the US

Ms Tlaib, a Democrat representing Detroit, told the Free Press that she chose to wear a traditional Palestinian garment, called a thobe, which was made by her mother who came to the US from the West Bank when she was 20 years old.

Ms Tlaib is a mother of two boys and is the oldest of her 14 siblings.

Her grandmother still lives in the West Bank and she has said that she hopes to lead a US delegation there after beginning her term.

On social media, she shared images of the dress and asked others to #TweetYourThobe, inspiring followers to share pictures of their dresses.

While celebrating the Democrats’ newest members, some on Twitter pointed out a lack of diversity among Republicans.

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