Michigan's Rashida Tlaib to be sworn in as first Palestinian-American in Congress

Swearing in ceremony takes place Thursday, Jan. 3

Rashida Tlaib
Rashida Tlaib

DETROIT – The upcoming congressional swearing-in ceremony for lifelong Detroit resident Rashida Tlaib is making national news.

The Palestinian-American and former Michigan state representative plans on wearing a Palestinian thobe during her swearing-in ceremony Thursday at the Longworth​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ House Office Building in Washington, D.C. T​​​​​​​laib's new office will be located in the building. 

A thobe is an ankle-length Arab garment, usually with long sleeves, similar to a robe. 


Tlaib, a Democrat, previously served three terms as a state representative for Michigan's 6th House District. She won the 13th Congressional District race in August, setting her up to become the first Palestinian-American to serve in Congress. Tlaib will succeed fellow Democrat John Conyers, who retired. 

Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, who represents Minnesota's 5th congressional district, are the first Muslim-American women to be elected to U.S. Congress. 

Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib
Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib



Tlaib made the announcement about representing her Palestinian roots at the ceremony on social media. 

In an Instagram post Dec. 14, Tlaib posted a picture of the Palestinian thobe she plans on wearing with the caption, "Sneak peak: This is what I am wearing when I am sworn into Congress. #PalestinianThobe #Formyyama." 

"Yama" means grandmother in Arabic. 

The announcement has been met with both positive and negative reactions with some applauding and others criticizing the move.  

One social media user wrote, "Yes! That is incredible. You are making us all proud!" Another comment read, "Look what the first Palestinian congresswoman is wearing when she gets sworn into Congress!" 

One user wrote, "You are in the US taking a US position. No costumes." 

In another post announcing the swearing-in ceremony, Tlaib encouraged people to join her in celebrating the occasion by wearing thobes or a historic piece of ethnic clothing. 

"Even if you can't make it, you can watch it live at cspan.org and be with me in spirit by wearing your favorite activist t-shirt or your mother's thobe or your own ethnic clothing that shows off your roots. Share it online anyway you want or not. This historic election belongs to all of us," Tlaib wrote in an Instagram post. 

Tlaib will also hold a swearing-in celebration Saturday, Jan. 12 at noon at River Rouge High School located in the district. 

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