North Carolina voters make history by electing first Muslim woman to hold office

Nida Allam has become the first Muslim woman to be win elected office in the state of North Carolina.

According to local reports, history was written on Tuesday night when voters in Durham County went to the ballots to elect Allam as their next county commissioner.

Allam said in a statement provided to The Hill that, growing up as a Muslim in the U.S., she “never thought running for office let alone winning and making history would ever be a possibility.” 

“I was driven to politics in 2015 after my best friend Yusor, her husband Deah and younger sister Razan were brutally murdered in their home in Chapel Hill in a hate crime committed by their neighbor,” she said. “This was a heinous act of hate that caused ripples across the world.” 

Allam was referring to the murders of Deah Barakat, 23, his wife, Yusor Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister, Razan Abu-Salha, 19. The three college students had been living in a condo in Chapel Hill, N.C. when a man, Craig Stephen Hicks, entered their home and killed them.

Local authorities initially claimed the shooting incident was over a parking dispute, but the chief of the Chapel Hill police department, Chris Blue, apologized years later, saying “the man who committed these murders undoubtedly did so with a hateful heart.”

Hicks was ordered to serve three life sentences without possibility of parole after pleading guilty to three counts of first-degree murder in 2019.

Allam said in her statement that her “community suffered deeply” after the deaths of her friends.

“How can I be content with all the blessings I have been given in this world when there is so much to do to fight injustice, uplift one another and to make our communities healthier. I’m fighting for a better nation so that others don’t have to suffer the pain my community did,” she said.

During her campaign, Allam pushed for police reform, better quality education and wage increases for county workers, among other issues.

Prior to her run for local office, she worked as a political director for Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) 2016 presidential campaign. She also served as third vice chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party and chair of Durham Mayor Steve Schewel’s (D) Council for Women.

The historic first in North Carolina comes years after voters saw a record number of Muslim candidates run for statewide or national office in 2018, the highest in nearly 20 years at the time. That was also the year Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) became the first Muslim women elected to serve in Congress.

This report was updated at 12:18 p.m.

Tags Bernie Sanders Ilhan Omar Rashida Tlaib

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