Rashida Tlaib wears a Palestinian dress to be sworn into Congress and inspires #TweetYourThobe

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Palestinian-American congresswoman Rashida Tlaib from Michigan was sworn into Congress today wearing a traditional embroidered Palestinian dress known as a thobe, inspiring many to post images of themselves and relatives to social media wearing similar dresses.

Writing in Elle today, Tlaib explained why she opted against business attire to pay homage to her mother and her Palestinian heritage with the dress:

“Throughout my career in public service, the residents I have had the privilege of fighting for have embraced who I am, especially my Palestinian roots. This is what I want to bring to the United States Congress, an unapologetic display of the fabric of the people in this country. This is why I decided to wear a thobe when I am sworn into the 116th Congress.

My Yama (mother in Arabic) came to the United States at age of 20, and just like any immigrant parent, she wants all of her children to succeed, but without giving up on our roots and culture.

As a young girl, I watched my mother hand stitch thobes while sitting on the floor with a lamp at her side. She would make the small designs of flowers and different shapes. Just thinking about it brings up so many memories of my mother and how proud she was of being Palestinian.”

Days before Tlaib was sworn into Congress she announced she planned to wear her thobe, inspiring professor and writer Susan Darraj to start a campaign of women supporting Tlaib’s historic win to represent Michigan’s 13th Congressional district. Last November Tlaib became the first Muslim Palestinian-American woman elected to Congress.
Darraj posted an image of herself in her own thobe, writing, “Every thobe is a dress embroidered with the stories, the loves, the tragedies of Palestinian women. The world will never be broken, because we will always stitch it back together & make it beautiful.”

Thobes come in many colors and materials. Though diverse in appearance, the designs are uniformly thoughtful. The intricate patterns and tones represent different Palestinian cities and town. Some women posted pictures of themselves in dresses that were said to be more than 100 years old, passed down through generations.

After the swearing in, Tlaib met with supporters in her office in the Rayburn building in Washington DC, meeting of her supporters who came dressed in thobes.

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Y’know, intellectually speaking, I’m not a fan of identity politics. I also don’t like identifying through flags, sports teams, et al. Guess I’m kind of an unreconstructed Marxist – class trumps all.

But I’m telling you, seeing these pictures literally brought a tear to my eye and made my chest flutter.

Sometimes the head rules, sometimes the heart….

this is incredible, just tears. look how beautiful they are.

great job allison.

Listening to The World on NPR today, I was jolted to hear host Marco Werman actually talking about Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and the thobe. Usually Werman is a garden variety Israeli cover-up stooge. Let’s see if he will now go beyond the clothing and discuss the politics of these new members of Congress.

I love the work and the look. What a beautiful garment. Perhaps some designer (benefitting Palestinians of course) can start a business, and make this available for us too. :))

This is a huge achievement for the Palestinian people. Finally they have a voice in the US Congress. Good luck to Rasida Tlaib. Make your people proud!

I’ve been admiring the colors and patterns for years here. Glad to know more about the thobe.