In New York City, a global beacon that draws a diverse population from all over the world, the City Council has never had a person of South Asian descent — or a Muslim woman — among its membership. That changed on Tuesday, when Shahana Hanif, a former New York City Council employee, won her election in a Brooklyn district that covers Park Slope, Kensington, and parts of central Brooklyn.
Shahana Hanif, who is Bangladeshi American, becomes the first Muslim woman elected to the New York Council in its history, despite the fact that the city is home to an estimated 769,000 Muslims.
She was one of two history-making South Asian candidates to win as well; the other, Shekar Krishnan, won a seat representing Jackson Heights and Elmhurst in Queens. (A third, Felicia Singh, another South Asian candidate, lost to her Republican opponent in a closely watched Queens race.)
In a statement on Tuesday night, Hanif said that she was “humbled and proud” to be the first Muslim woman on the Council — and the first woman of any faith to represent District 39. She cited volunteers and endorsements from the community and progressive groups, including the left-leaning Working Families Party.
“Together we are building an anti-racist, feminist city,” she said. “We deserve a city that protects its most vulnerable, a city that has equitable education, a city invested in climate solutions that are local and driven by communities, a city where our immigrant neighbors feel at home and heard and safe. This work requires all of us to keep showing up even though the election is over.”
‘This agreement will make a tremendous difference for thousands of immigrant working families.’
The City Council will also have its first out gay Black women serve as members next year: Kristin Richardson Jordan scored an overwhelming victory in a Harlem district, as did Crystal Hudson in a Brooklyn district that encompasses parts of Prospect Heights, Crown Heights, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, and Bedford-Stuyvesant.
A number of other L.G.B.T.Q. candidates clinched victories, including Tiffany Cabán and Lynn Schulman in Queens. Chi Ossé in Brooklyn and Erik Bottcher in Manhattan had run in uncontested races.
The candidates are part of a larger shift in New York’s City Council. It is poised to be nearly as diverse next year as the city it represents. More than two dozen women are positioned to take a majority of the Council’s seats, for the first time ever.
Earlier this year, US Senate confirmed Zahid Quraishi as the country’s first Muslim federal judge, making him the first Muslim federal judge in US history. The 46th US President, Biden, is definitely inching towards historic victory.
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