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Since the election of the 116th Congress of the United States, the most diverse in the country’s history, international headlines have been filled with the names of two newly elected Muslim congresswomen: Somali-American Ilhan Omar and Palestinian-American Rashida Tlaib.

Through their criticism of Israeli atrocities, the two Democrats have stepped out of line with their party’s support for Zionism. Some smeared them as anti-Semitic.

The two women are hated not only by Zionists. Saudi Arabia is also upset by comments made by the Congress members. In a piece for Al Jazeera English, professor Hamid Dabashi explores why Saudi Arabia is anxious about Omar and Tlaib. Omar, in particular, has criticized the Saudi regime over the Khashoggi murder and the starvation of Yemen – actions that were either whitewashed or supported by the Trump administration. Oppressive regimes like Saudi Arabia are generally concerned that outspoken, young Muslim Americans like Omar and Tlaib are ready to expose and criticize their tyranny and corruption.

As Dabashi argues, Saudi and other tyrannical regimes in the region fear criticism from Muslims, at home or abroad. Dabashi further argues:

With Islamophobia from one side, bourgeois feminism at the service of war machines on the other, and the Saudi-Zionist alliance aiming to silence and kill voices of Muslim dissent, Muslim living in the US and elsewhere have their work cut out for them.

There is no underestimating the institutional and propaganda power of these nefarious forces. One must celebrate the election of two Muslim women to the US Congress, but one should not be too sanguine about their overnight success either. That the Islamophobes, xenophobes, the Saudis and their regional allies are alarmed is a good sign, but the battles ahead are mighty and mean. After all, for every Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib in the US Congress there is a platoon of Nancy Pelosis and Chuck Schumers in the back pockets of regressive, Islamophobic and Zionist powers.

Read the full piece here.

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