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On Saturday, Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, the founder of MuslimGirl.com, officially announced her candidacy to represent New Jersey’s 6th Congressional District. She is the first Muslim woman to run for federal office in the history of the state and is projected to be the youngest woman to fun for Congress in 2016, according to a press release provided to ELLE.com
Al-Khatahtbeh is challenging Rep. Frank Pallone, a 16-term incumbent and chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
The 27-year-old’s announcement comes in the middle of the coronavirus global pandemic, when New Jersey has the second-highest number of cases in the U.S., following the state of New York. The campaign will launch a digital “Campaign Quaran-Tour” live-stream schedule with issue-based local and national organizations.
In her campaign, she will focus on progressive values such as the Green New Deal, Medicare For All, student debt forgiveness, and more.
“This moment is a stark reminder that we can no longer wait for incremental change. Our leadership can and must put the health and well-being of working families and the most vulnerable among us front and center,” Al-Khatahtbeh said via a statement provided to ELLE.com. “I’m proud to represent a coalition of underrepresented communities in what’s nothing less than a historic fight for our lives.”
In 2016, Al-Khatahtbeh was the first veiled Muslim woman to make it to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list. She launched MuslimGirl.com in 2009, and in 2016, she published a memoir of the same name. She’s written on many important topics, including the current culture of Islamaphobia.
“People understand through empathy that hateful rhetoric targeting Muslims or other minorities—that that rhetoric doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It has real life and death consequences in our daily lives, and I think that people can only really understand it if they do access that empathy. That’s what brings me make to the stories. I think that stories are the best way for us to increase that empathy, to humanize us and make those connections happen. Really, it’s the stories that unite us, right? It’s those human experiences that we all share that really bring us together.”
She is a first-generation American and a graduate of Rutgers University school of political science in New Jersey’s 6th Congressional District.