First US Muslim Woman to Run for Congress

Fayrous Saad is running for Congress is Michigan’s 11th district Photo: Salam Zahr

Dearborn, MINA – Fayrouz Saad could be the first Muslim woman in the United States to serve in congress, after she run for Congress in Michigan’s 11th District.

If elected, the 34-year-old woman will replace the white, male, Republican representative in office, Dave Trott.

Ms Saad often says that she doesn’t want to run “the anti-Trump campaign,” and prefers to focus on her policy proposals and values. But, she admits, “a lot of the things that I’m fighting for, a lot of the things I want to see changed, and a portion of what pushed me to run is to fight back against his agenda”, the Independent reported.

A president that Ms Saad would rather talk about is former President Barack Obama. If elected, she will share with him the distinction of being a “first” – a member of a minority group who broke through a political glass ceiling for her community.

The two leaders also share similar political views, focusing on issues like expanding health care, supporting immigrants, and boosting small businesses. They both have midwestern roots, at least one immigrant parent, and a name that confuses most Americans.

“In Arabic, my name means precious stone. In English, it means at least 17 different spellings on my Starbucks cup,” Ms Saad joked in her first campaign video.

What makes the comparison even more apt is Ms Saad’s history within the Obama administration. Shortly after finishing university, she joined Mr Obama’s Department of Homeland Security to work on “community policing” – a fancy term for strengthening relationships between immigrant communities and their local law enforcement.

Ms Saad has even met the former President – three times – at White House events for Muslim administration members. At one event, Mr Obama gave her hardworking, immigrant family a shout-out. Later, he posed for a picture with the candidate and her mother.

While Ms Saad is undeniably a fan of Mr Obama —“I’m a groupie,” she admits — she resists the idea that they are the same.

“I think the great thing about our democracy is that we can love our elected leaders and respect them, but at the same time challenge some of the things that they’ve done or said,” she said.

One area where their politics differ is national security. After working with the DHS, Ms Saad said, she became convinced of the need for a more “whole of government” approach to community policing – expanding the definition of “security” to mean things like quality healthcare and access to education, too.

“I often felt like it needs to be a more integrated approach and a broader approach,” she said. She found herself wanting to tell people: “Ok, this is great, but let’s build off of it as well.”

This desire for the government to do more – to provide more – is part of what makes Ms Saad, as she calls herself, “the progressive candidate”.

She readily supports expanding Medicare to provide health care coverage to all Americans. (“It just seems obvious to me, she says.) She advocates for creating a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. She has vowed to protect environmental regulations that the Trump administration says are “bad for business”.

These views might be perfect for someone running in California, but Ms Saad is not. Michigan’s 11th district has been Republican – with only one brief, Democratic interruption – since 1967. And the district was redrawn by Republicans in 2010, leading it to favour conservative candidates even more.

But Ms Saad declared her candidacy even before the current representative, Mr Trott, announced his plans to retire. She knew the incumbent was vulnerable, she said, because of the growing grassroots action in the district.

When Mr Trott announced his support for the repeal of Obamacare, residents of Michigan’s 11th turned out to protest. When Mr Trump declared his intention to end DACA, a programme that protects childhood immigrants, district members marched through the streets.

In February, when Mr Trott skipped a town hall and avoided his angry constituents, they brought a live chicken to take his place.

“I think that people are going to continue to demand change,” Ms Saad said, echoing a familiar Obama campaign line. “…People want elected leaders who are going to fight for progressive values.”(T/RE1/RS5)

Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)