First Muslim Americans elected to Illinois General Assembly

Wednesday, November 9, 2022
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Nabeela Syed recounted a story of a friend who told her before the election that he never thought he would see a name like hers on hundreds of yard signs in their community.

Now she is headed to Springfield to represent the 51st District in the State House.


"It doesn't seem real, but I am a state representative-elect now," she said.

The 23-year-old Palatine native became the first Indian American woman and first Muslim, along with Abdelnasser Rashid, to be elected to serve in the Illinois General Assembly.

"It is so important for us to have a seat at the table, for us to have a voice in the legislative process," Syed said.

"People say wait your turn or there is no space for you. We made space," Rashid said.

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Rashid, who plans to move from the southwest suburbs to Bridgeview, is also the first Palestinian-American to be elected to the legislature.

"I am absolutely honored and humbled to have the trust of the voters of the 21st District," he said.

Rashid and Syed believe they won the support of voters by engaging with them on key issues.

"They didn't vote for me because my name is Abdelnasser, because I happen to be Palestinian and happen to be Muslim. They voted for me for the ideas that we engaged with them on," he said.

"I do believe that is the most effective thing that you can do as a legislator is to listen and that is what we did in our campaign," she said.

And that's what they promise they will continue to do in office.
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