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Young, Muslim and Progressive: Is another AOC-style brew brewing in New York?
Rana Abdelhamid, the daughter of Egyptian immigrants, seeks to oust a former member of Congress in a democratic primary Rana Abdelhamid: “ My history in this neighborhood is rooted in my organization, in my community, in my spirituality, in my education. I really feel connected. Photograph: Rana for Congress Steinway is a busy and noisy street in the Queens district of Astoria. The area known locally as “Little Egypt” is full of people shopping and cyclists rushing to shawarma stores to deliver their next order. It is a North African and Southwest Asian neighborhood made up of small businesses such as halal butchers, hookah lounges, and Middle Eastern restaurants. For Rana Abdelhamid, this neighborhood is home. On April 14, Abdelhamid announced his race against outgoing Democratic Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney to represent the 12th Congressional District of New York City, an area made up of a significant portion of the East Side of Manhattan, Astoria, and northern Brooklyn. It ranges from the incredibly wealthy penthouse apartments that line Manhattan’s Central Park to the struggling working-class neighborhoods where Abdelhamid grew up. If elected, Abdelhamid would be one of the youngest members to ever serve in Congress and the third Muslim woman ever to be elected to the House. She was endorsed by Justice Democrats, a powerful progressive activist group that has played a decisive role in the victories of Alexandria Ocasio. -Cortez and Jamaal Bowman in their respective primary elections in New York. Just as AOC and Bowman defeated longtime Democrats and then quickly rose to prominence on the left of the party, Justice Democrats hope Abdelhamid will continue the trend of a left-wing revolution sweeping New York City that has already had a major impact on the American nation. Politics. “My story in this neighborhood is rooted in my organization, in my community, in my spirituality, in my education. I really feel connected. It comes from a place of love. That’s why I do it, ”she told The Guardian in an interview at a beer garden in Astoria. As someone who has fought tirelessly for his community against racism and economic insecurity, we are proud to support @RanaForCongress and his campaign for gradual change. # NY12 https://t.co/V7tQT9LuTh— Justice Democrats (@justicedems) April 14, 2021 Abdelhamid is convinced she can win too. “[Justice Democrats] know that we can win this. It gives me, my team and my community a lot of confidence. It makes me feel like I’m part of a larger movement – a movement for progressive politics in this country, ”she said. In Maloney, Abdelhamid faces a formidable opponent. Maloney, who has been in office since before her opponent was born, is one of the most influential Democrats in the House. The chairman of the powerful oversight committee, Maloney has called herself progressive in the past, but Abdelhamid said that couldn’t be further from the truth. “It is someone who voted yes on the war in Iraq. Frankly, leadership is more than a word. It is a practice. These are the results. It’s how you are connected to communities. This is how the people depicted live life. If she calls herself a progressive, it is because she understands that the tide is turning. People want to elect progressives. She recognizes it, ”she said. Twenty-one Twenty-one promises to be a busy one for the 27-year-old political hopeful who began his campaign just a day after the start of Ramadan. In addition to participating in the election campaign and planning a wedding, Abdelhamid is also fasting. The young candidate has already had to break the fast in the middle of meetings, but she called the chaotic timing of her political debut “really quite beautiful”. Abdelhamid’s father ran a much sought-after Halal grocery store, one of the first of its kind in the community. When he couldn’t pay the rent to keep the store open, the business closed and he drove a cab to make ends meet. Born to Egyptian immigrant parents, Abdelhamid grew up in a one-bedroom apartment alongside her three siblings in the 12th arrondissement. Now she’s looking for a chance to represent him. “A lot of working class immigrants came here in the 1980s and early 1990s, like my father and mother. They basically built this neighborhood from scratch. There weren’t any stores like this, ”she said, pointing to Duzan, the quick and laid-back Middle Eastern shawarma restaurant behind her. “There was a Greek pastry shop. There was certainly no mosque. I saw growing up how aunts and uncles built these institutions, built these little businesses with so little. Mothers sell their gold as Egyptian women so they can raise funds to build these walls. Steinway is now home to the Al-Iman Mosque, a large, bright pink central point across the street. The large building replaced a smaller version next door due to the growing demand for a place of worship for Muslims in the area. For Abdelhamid, it served as a community center where she could make friends and take karate lessons, in which she now has a first degree black belt. In the years following the 9/11 attacks, she recalled that her mosque had been monitored by FBI and NYPD advertisements for willful informants. “Overnight, I was considered a Muslim. They would make terrorist jokes [at school] and so I felt a deep sense of isolation. People were very scared. They would change their name if they could. For me, this neighborhood was so important because I went to the mosque every week. It was the only place where I wasn’t ashamed of my identity as a young girl. Where people have said my name. I felt comfortable with the hijab and didn’t feel the need to take it off as soon as I walked down the street, ”she said. At a time when American Muslim women took off their hijabs for fear of being profiled or harassed, Abdelhamid decided to adopt one. Two years later, she was assaulted by a man who tried to tear off her scarf. “Right after this incident, I just remember not speaking. I remember it because I talk a lot. I haven’t told my parents for so long. My parents were scared and heartbroken but also provocative. It gave me strength. They aren’t afraid and I shouldn’t be afraid either. For many Muslim women after 9/11, it was a claim of identity. Very early on, when I wore my hijab, it was an act of “I’m not going to be ashamed. I will be proud. I’m not going to fall for those stories that slander the people I love the most. Abdelhamid has a formidable opponent in Carolyn Maloney, who is chair of the House Oversight Committee. Photograph: Tom Williams / AP Maloney has been criticized for a 2001 stunt in which she donned a burqa on the House floor in an effort to gain support for the US invasion of Afghanistan. In her speech, she said: “I salute the Bush administration for balancing war and compassion, for dropping food and bombs”, which struck a chord with Abdelhamid who said he feared. for her and her mother’s life at the time. “This is someone who wore a burqa on the floor of the house as a costume. When you look at the time when she did this, as women wearing the hijab, we were afraid to walk the streets, ”Abdelhamid said. “To this day, women who wear the hijab, the burqa and the niqab are criminalized across the world. She wore it to justify a story that we are oppressed. My activism and organization started both because of my class identity and because of my ethno-religious identity growing up as a Muslim in New York City after 9/11. They are both connected to this neighborhood. At the top of Abdelhamid’s agenda is justice in housing. Abdelhamid herself was kicked out of her neighborhood, along with her family, meaning she does not live in the neighborhood – a fact the New York State Democratic Committee was quick to point out. “Right now my family and I live a few blocks from the neighborhood. Like many working class people, you don’t base yourself where you live outside of the district boundaries, it’s community based and where you can afford to live, ”she said. A staunch supporter of AOC’s Green New Deal for public housing, Abdelhamid attributes gentrification and skyrocketing rents to his family’s living situation which forced them to relocate several times throughout his childhood. “I remember the first time we received an eviction notice. Our owner sold the business to a developer and kept raising the rent. They were really trying to push us away. Often this happens when there are massive real estate developers who do not take into account the cultural needs, the economic needs, the needs of the working-class communities, the needs of the communities who built the neighborhoods, ”she said. declared. Ocasio-Cortez and Bowman won their elections while Trump, who served to galvanize progressives, was in power. When asked if she was concerned about boosting leftist support after Trump, Abdelhamid said: “I’m not worried. I am convinced that we will be able to excite the young people, the people of color, the blacks, the working class people, the immigrant communities in this neighborhood. Anyone who is truly enthusiastic about a progressive ideology who wants to see something different will join this campaign. People understand that the progressive movement and gradual change is a long struggle that will not happen overnight. The change we seek will require sustained levels of organization, and that is part of it.