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Muslim Women Make History In Virginia Elections


Friday November 8, 2019
By Dominique Mosbergen



Ghazala Hashmi, Abrar Omeish, Lisa Zargarpur and Buta Biberaj are among the first Muslims to hold elected office in the state.

Democrats Ghazala Hashmi, Abrar Omeish, Lisa Zargarpur and Buta Biberaj ― four Muslim women ― made history in Virginia’s elections on Tuesday.

In a surprise victory, Hashmi unseated incumbent Republican Glen Sturtevant for a state Senate seat; Omeish clinched one of three vacant seats on the Fairfax County School Board; Zargarpur was elected to the Prince William County School Board; and Biberaj, in a tight race, defeated Republican incumbent Nicole Wittmann to become Loudoun County’s new commonwealth’s attorney.

Hashmi is the first Muslim to be elected to the state Senate, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. (Two Muslim men ― Democrats Ibraheem Samirah and Sam Rasoul ― currently serve in Virginia’s General Assembly.)

Celebrating her win, Omeish said she was the youngest woman at age 24 and the first Libyan American to hold elected office in Virginia’s history. She also made claim to being the first Muslim woman to be elected in the state ― an honor she would share with Hashmi, Zargarpur and Biberaj.

All four were supported by the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

The women’s victories were part of the blue wave that swept Virginia on Tuesday. Democrats successfully flipped both houses of the state legislature. The election has been described as a possible “watershed” moment for the once-conservative Southern state.

“Today we sent a message that the status quo is no longer accepted,” a victorious Hashmi wrote on Twitter.

Omaeish, Karen Keys-Gamarra and Rachna Sizemore Heizer ― all Democrats ― won the three open seats on the Fairfax County School Board.

“Abrar’s campaign worked hard to elevate young voices and those of underserved and underrepresented communities, proactively reaching out to constituencies who have otherwise not been engaged by registering 1,500 new voters and training hundreds of new volunteers,” Omeish’s campaign said in a statement celebrating her winning an at-large seat.

“She strives towards facilitating a school system that believes fully in the potential of the leader in every child and believes that the investment in that child is worthwhile no matter their race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or immigration status,” the campaign continued.