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U.S. House Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), wearing a traditional Palestinian thobe, takes the oath of office on Thomas Jefferson's English translated Quran, with family members present at the start of the 116th Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 3, 2019. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)


Women celebrate Rashida Tlaib’s historic entry to Congress with flood of beautiful images

By WITW Staff on January 4, 2019

Women across America and internationally have been sharing photos of their beautiful, traditional Palestinian dresses, to celebrate the swearing in to Congress of Rashida Tlaib.

Tlaib, who with Ilhan Omar is one of the first two Muslim women to be elected to Congress, announced in December that she would wear the traditional ‘thobe’ to the historic occasion, posting an image of her planned outfit on social media.

The hand-embroidery (‘tatreez’) on the gowns typically represents the area the wearer comes from, and is rich with other symbolism, too. Wafa Ghnaim, a New York-based tatreez artist and educator told the New York Times that the cypress trees around the waist of Tlaib’s dress signify resilience, and are often incorporated into celebratory garments. The knowledge of how to create tatreez is often passed down from mother to daughter, she says. When Tlaib posted an image of her thobe online in December, she added the #ForMyYama (an Arabic word for mother.)

In an article for Elle published on Thursday, Ms. Tlaib explained why she decided to wear the thobe. “Throughout my career in public service, the residents I have had the privilege of fighting for have embraced who I am, especially my Palestinian roots,” she wrote. “This is what I want to bring to the United States Congress, an unapologetic display of the fabric of the people in this country.”

On Tlaib’s Twitter bio, the Michigan Democrat sums herself up as an “Unbossed Congresswoman for Michigan’s #13districtstrong Mama working for justice, social worker at heart, Detroiter, Palestinian American, proud Muslima.”

Credit for creating the beautiful flood of images that made its way onto social media goes to novelist Susan Muaddi Darraj, who decided to mark Tlaib’s achievement at the same time as educating people about Palestinian embroidery.

At first the #TweetYourThobe hashtag existed only within a private Facebook group. Within two weeks, that group had 8,000 members, and on Thursday they went public, sharing their photos on TwitterFacebookand Instagram.

Read the full story at The New York Times.


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